Eagles slip up against Scotland in Hong Kong

HONG KONG, China – The Men’s Eagles Sevens suffered their first loss of Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens to Scotland, 15-10, Saturday.

The sky opened just as Scotland was about to kick off, forcing the sold-out crowd to take cover and the teams to change their stance on the pitch.

Neither team could get anything fluid going in the opening minutes of the match, with the conditions forcing sloppy passes and loose balls on the ground. Even tackles proved little as players were able to slide an extra few meters.

Scotland’s Mark Bennett finished the longest attack of either team in the second minute to put his team up 5-0.

Scotland extended the league through Bennett after Danny Barrett almost replied for the Eagles. As he was tackled, Barrett decided to make a quick pass before the ruck formed, but the ball went straight to a Scotland player. The Scots moved down the field and Bennett dotted down for a 10-0 Scotland lead.

The Eagles could not put together an attack in the first half, symbolized by multiple clearance kicks by Madison Hughes. Eventually, Nick Edwards capitalized on a loose ball in a Scotland ruck to set up Pono Haitsuka for the Eagles’ first try of the match.

Down just 10-5 at the half, the Eagles were looking for improved play in the second frame to clinch a berth in the Hong Kong Sevens Cup Quarterfinal.

Andrew Durutalo entered the match in the first minute of the second half and helped the Eagles keep Scotland off of the scoreboard. Scotland appeared to score in the ninth minute, but a last-second pass went forward before the Scot dotted down in the in-goal.

Scotland scored a minute later, however, after Edwards stepped up to make a tackle near the wing, leaving James Johnstone wide open to score Scotland’s third try.

Down 15-5, Durutalo and Mike Palefau, who was substituted in the 12th minute, helped the Eagles put together their longest attack in the 13th minute. As they moved down the field through phases, Durutalo made the final pass to Zack Test, who slid through his tacklers to dot down for the try. Hughes’ kick was wide for a 15-10 scoreline.

The try came too late for the Eagles, however, as Matt Hawkins’ team could not get possession before Scotland kicked the ball into touch after the final whistle.

The Eagles, who defeated Samoa 26-12 in the first match Friday, will need some help to advance to the Cup round in Hong Kong. Samoa must beat Scotland in its final match but keep the point differential in the Eagles’ favor or the Eagles will need a win against New Zealand in their last match.

The Eagles kick off against New Zealand at 6:10 A.M. ET. Follow live match updates with @USARugby on Twitter.

Men's Eagles Sevens| v Scotland
1. Mike Palefau
2. Nick Edwards
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Brett Thompson
7. Marcus Satavu
8. Andrew Durutalo
9. Pono Haitsuka
10. Mike Te'o
11. Madison Hughes
12. Ryan Matyas

Men's Eagles Sevens | 10
Tries: Haitsuka, Test
Conversions: None

Men's Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
v New Zealand- Saturday, March 29 - 6:10 A.M. ET