South Africa holds off Eagles in Tokyo Sevens Cup Quarterfinal

TOKYO, Japan – The Men’s Eagles Sevens played up to a higher standard in their Cup Quarterfinal against South Africa at Tokyo Sevens Saturday, but ultimately lost the match 17-12 to move into the Plate Semifinal.

The Eagles were immediately dealt a blow in the first few seconds of the match as the Springboks stripped Brett Thompson off of the restart and moved the ball wide to Seabelo Senatia, who strolled into the try zone to open the scoring.

South Africa’s lead was only at 5-0, however, as Branco du Preez missed the conversion. The Eagles attempted to take advantage of the slim deficit with a few lengthy attacks down the pitch. Danny Barrett crushed an unsuspecting Springbok with a huge hit 10 meters from the try line and followed up the play to force a penalty. He took the quick tap straight to the try zone to level the match at 5-5. Madison Hughes’ conversion was good to give the Eagles a 7-5 lead.

The Eagles held off South Africa for the remaining minutes of the half, but Hughes could not keep Justin Geduld out of the corner of the try zone after the final whistle had blown. South Africa took a 10-7 lead into the half.

No strangers to comebacks at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, the Eagles started brightly the second half. Andrew Durutalo almost scored his second try of the tournament in the eighth minute and Thompson finished off another attack for a try a minute later. Hughes’ conversion was no good, but the Eagles still held a slim 12-10 lead.

Senatia turned provider for the Springboks in the 11th minute. He received the ball deep in his team’s own territory and ran towards the touch line, outracing Nick Edwards in the process. Edwards eventually closed the gap, forcing Senatia to stop. He spotted teammate Werner Kok making a run behind him and sent a chip kick towards the in-goal. Kok dove on top of the ball to give South Africa a 17-12 lead with just two minutes remaining.

The Eagles could not quite get a handle on the ball in the final minutes of the match and South Africa kicked to touch to bring the referee’s whistle. South Africa remains unbeaten in Tokyo with a 4-0 record, while the Eagles will face Canada in the Plate Semifinal. Canada lost to England in the other Cup Quarterfinal prior to the Eagles’ match.

Watch the Eagles and Canada in Japan live on Universal Sports at 12:46 A.M. ET and follow live match updates on Twitter with @USARugby.

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

Men's Eagles Sevens | 12
Tries: Barrett, Thompson
Conversions: Hughes

Men's Eagles Sevens | Tokyo Sevens Plate Semifinal
Sunday, March 23 - 12:46 A.M. ET