Australia wins Cape Town pool with defeat of Eagles

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - The Men's Eagles Sevens conceded a try well beyond the hooter sounded at Cape Town Stadium Saturday in a 26-21 loss to Australia at HSBC Cape Town Sevens.

Madison Hughes scored his team-leading fourth try of the tournament in the loss, which confirms the U.S. places second in Pool C play to set up a Cup Quarterfinal match with Kenya. The Quarterfinal will kick off at 6:10 a.m. ET Sunday, Dec. 13, and will be available to viewers in the United States on World Rugby's website.

Australia began the match with the ball after Folau Niua's kickoff was touched by Maka Unufe before it traveled 10 meters. The Eagles got the ball back for a penalty in the breakdown at their 22, and Niua slowed things down with a kick to touch. Zack Test brought the ball past midfield and Hughes was able to find a gap to break free from the defense for a 7-0 lead.

For his efforts to apply pressure to Hughes during the dot-down, Allan Fa'alava'au was shown a yellow card for a two-minute stay in the sin bin. With six men, Australia took possession from the restart through James Stannard, and Greg Jeloudev was able to find the try zone for the match-leveling try.

Fa'alava'au returned to the pitch in the seventh minute and gave Australia the lead after successive penalties outside the try line pushed the Eagle defenders backwards. Australia took the 14-7 lead into the break.

The Eagles were whistled for another penalty in the eighth minute and Stannard set up Australia's third try with a lateral run from one touch line towards the other. His pass was hit out to Jeloudev on the wing for a 21-7 Australia lead.

Carlin Isles chased a Hughes grubber to the 10 to get the Eagles from out of their own end following the restart. The attack continued through phases into Australia's side of the pitch, where Niua and Matai Leuta used their creativity and strength to free space for Garrett Bender on the wing. Bender was nearly forced into touch, but kept his feet and got the offload out before they could find touch. Kevin Swiryn used Perry Baker as a dummy out wide to cut inside between two defenders to pull the Eagles closer at 21-14.

Isles singlehandedly saved a try after Stephan van der Walt made a couple tacklers miss, getting an arm around the Australian as he reached the try line to knock the ball loose before it could be grounded. A minute later, he rounded the touch-line defender and cut inside to beat the sweeper to score a near-length-of-the-pitch try. Hughes' conversion knotted the score at 21-21 with a minute remaining on the clock.

The Eagles would have won the pool with a draw, but wanted the win against a Tier One opponent. Both teams were penalized to keep play going beyond the hooter, and Australia had the final say with the ball in hand inside the Eagles' 10. Australia went through one phase to the wing, where Henry Hutchison outpaced Hughes to the corner to steal the 26-21 win.

Sunday's Cup Quarterfinal match against Kenya will kick off at 6:10 a.m. ET and can be streamed live on World Rugby's website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Australia

1. Carlin Isles

2. Matai Leuta

3. Brett Thompson

4. Garrett Bender

5. Zack Test

6. Kevin Swiryn

7. Folau Niua

8. Maka Unufe

9. Thretton Palamo

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Will Holder

Australia | v. USA

1. Henry Hutchison

2. Tom Kingston

3. Sam Myers

4. Lewis Holland

5. James Stannard

6. Con Foley

7. Greg Jeloudev

8. Stephan van der Walt

9. Boyd Killingworth

10. Allan Fa'alava'au

11. Pama Fou

12. Tom Cusack

Men's Eagles Sevens | 21

Tries: Hughes, Swiryn, Isles

Conversions: Hughes (3)

Australia | 26

Tries: Jeloudev (2), Fa'alava'au, Hutchison

Conversions: Stannard (3)

Men's Eagles Sevens | HSBC Cape Town Sevens

v. Wales - W 26-19

v. Portugal - W 52-7

v. Australia - L 26-21

Cup QF v. Kenya - Sunday, Dec. 13 - 6:10 a.m. ET