Eagles into Shield Final with win against Portugal

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The Men’s Eagles Sevens earned their first win of Wellington Sevens against Portugal in the Shield Semifinal, 31-10, thanks to two tries from Madison Hughes and Carlin Isles and good defensive work from the entire team.

After waiting for Spain and Tonga to complete extra time in the other Shield Semifinal, Hughes got the match started after Zack Test juked three Portugal defenders. By creating the space, Hughes was allowed to break into the try zone to score his second try in just his third start. He missed the conversion however, keeping the lead at just 5-0.

Portugal almost tied the match in the fifth minute when Luis Sousa broke down the wing into the Eagles’ attacking territory. Brett Thompson took him down and the Eagles grabbed the ball before Garrett Bender fed Pono Haitsuka for the Eagles’ second try and a 10-0 lead.

Hughes added another tally to the tries scored from collegiate players a minute later and converted the try himself to send the teams into halftime with the Eagles leading 17-0.

Isles had a chance to show off his speed to the rugby-mad fans in Wellington, but his run along the wing was cut short by a successful Portuguese tackle. Not long thereafter, however, Isles got the ball again and confused three defenders with a cut inside. A few seconds later, he dotted down for a try between the sticks. Hughes’ conversion padded the lead to 24-0.

Portugal got one back through Nuno Guedes, who broke Thompson’s tackle before diving into the try zone from 10 meters. Hughes was directly behind him, however, and seemingly held up the Portugal man. The referee discussed the play with his colleague and awarded the try.

Isles made sure the 24-5 lead did not last with another sprint across the try line in the 13th minute and a third conversion from Hughes made the score 31-5. One last Portugal try after the whistle brought the final score to 31-0, giving the Eagles their first win.

Spain also secured their first win in the Shield Semifinal against Tonga, setting up a date with the Eagles in the Final. The Eagles defeated Los Leones twice at USA Sevens in February. Follow @USARugby on Twitter from 1:32 A.M. ET.