USA Sevens: Day Two

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A highlight-reel try could not save the Men’s Eagles Sevens from a 12-7 loss to Wales in the USA Sevens Bowl Quarterfinal Saturday night. With the loss, the Eagles will move into the Shield Semifinal against Uruguay Sunday at 12:42 P.M. ET.

Neither team could get much going in a scoreless first half in front of more than 30,000 fans at Sam Boyd Stadium. Zack Test received the ball at the Eagles’ 22 and used a stiff fend to find room downfield. Test’s pace was not enough to reach the try zone, however, as the former Oregon Duck only reached the Welsh 22 before losing the ball forward in a tackle.

Folau Niua took a quick throw-in following a Wales player being tackled into touch and Andrew Durutalo showed his strength to drag two players with him before another knock against the Eagles.

Wales took a page out of the Eagles’ playbook with a deep kick downfield for a speedy winger, but the ball rolled into touch about 15 meters from the try line.

With a 0-0 score line at the half, both teams had hopes for a Bowl Semifinal berth. In the eighth minute, Danny Barrett ran down the wing and was tackled into touch without support. Barrett stayed down due to the rough tackle, but Wales took a quick throw-in and Luke Morgan ran a quick 60 meters for the match’s first try. Rhys Jones’ conversion made the score 7-7.

The ensuring restart found touch, setting up the Eagles with possession at midfield. A slow pass almost set up Test for a hit by a Welsh player, but the former football wide receiver cleverly flicked the ball to Carlin Isles on the wing. Isles ran 10 meters past two defenders and cut inside to juke another before offloading to Ryan Matyas, who finished the great team play with a try between the sticks. Suniula’s conversion tied the match at 7-7.

The final four, heart-pounding minutes were contested mostly at midfield, but Wale eventually pushed towards the try zone. Another chip kick by Wales placed the ball five meters out for Isles to collect, but the “fastest man in rugby” could not get away, and was tackled in the try zone to set up a Welsh scrum.

With seconds left, Wales moved the ball to the left wing, where Isles was waiting to make a tackle. Dylan Morgans had a head of steam on his side, however, and could not be kept out by the track star. Wales snatched the 12-7 victory from the Eagles in the last minute like Argentina and France had done Friday night in pool play.

The Eagles will take on Uruguay in the Shield Semifinal Saturday, and must win to play a sixth match. Follow live updates on Twitter with @USARugby and watch USA Sevens live on Universal Sports Network from 12:30 P.M. ET to 2:00 P.M. ET. For the full broadcast schedule, click here.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v Wales1. Carlin Isles (@ 8')
2. Nick Edwards3. Danny Barrett4. Nu'u Punimata
5. Zack Test6. Brett Thompson7. Folau Niua8 .Andrew Durutalo9. Pono Haitsuka10. Shalom Suniula (@ 8')
11. Stephen Tomasin (@ 8')
12. Ryan Matyas (@ 9')

Men's Eagles Sevens | 7

The Men’s Eagles Sevens finished their play in Pool D at USA Sevens with a five-try, 31-10 win against Spain in front of a raucous home crowd at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Brett Thompson opened the scoring in the first minute after Andrew Durutalo used his strength to pull a defender away. Folau Niua’s conversion went through the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

Spain had the ball within 10 meters of the try line in the third minute when an Eagles penalty allowed Los Leones to kick to touch. The ball was moved to the opposite wing in hopes of catching the Eagles out of position, but a hefty tackle from two Eagles forced the ball into touch to turn over possession.

Danny Barrett, who scored his first IRB HSBC Sevens World Series try Friday against Argentina, was on his way to a try along the wing in the fifth minute before an ill-advised pass to a Spanish player ended the opportunity. Less than a minute later, Spain’s Igor Genua found space to score his side’s first try of the match and cut the Eagles’ lead to 7-5.

Spain committed a penalty at midfield in the final minute of the first half. Durutalo took a quick tap and found Niua, who split two Lions and outran another into the try zone to extend the Eagles’ lead. Niua did not set himself up for the easiest conversion attempt by dotting down in the corner, but his kick was straight and true for a 14-5 Eagles lead at the half.

Eagles Head Coach Matt Hawkins inserted Carlin Isles, Shalom Suniula and Stephen Tomasin into the mix at halftime, and Isles tried to make an impact early by weaving through the Spanish defense near the 10. An Eagles lineout in the 10th minute was lost and Genua added his second try of the match to bring the score to 14-10.

Suniula’s kick to Spain’s side of the field did not bounce favorably for Isles, who was on his horse to get his second try of the tournament. Thompson stole a Spain lineout near the visitors’ 22 and handed the ball off to Tomasin, who shrugged off a defender on his way to the Eagles’ third try. Suniula’s conversion made it through the uprights for a 21-10 lead.

The Eagles did not allow Spain to come back into the match, something Hawkins will surely be pleased about after his side failed to finish out two close matches Friday. Test put a big hit on a Spanish player in open play to turn over the ball to the Eagles, and Thompson dotted down on the other side of the field for his second try and a 26-10 Eagles lead.

Tomasin almost scored a second, as well, after grabbing the ball on the wing. After dragging one defender a few meters, the former San Diego State Aztec was finally tackled. Before a ruck could form, an onrushing Pono Haitsuka caught Tomasin’s pass from the ground to score his third try of the weekend and a 31-10 win.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v Spain1. Carlin Isles (@ 8')
2. Nick Edwards3. Danny Barrett4. Nu'u Punimata (@ 12')
5. Zack Test6. Brett Thompson7. Folau Niua8 .Andrew Durutalo9. Pono Haitsuka10. Shalom Suniula (@ 8')
11. Stephen Tomasin (@ 8')
12. Ryan Matyas (@ 14')

Men's Eagles Sevens | 31Tries: Thompson (2), Niua, Tomasin, Haitsuka
Conversions: Niua (2), Suniula