Defense, Baker hat trick see Eagles through to Hong Kong Quarterfinals

HONG KONG - The Men's Eagles Sevens survived a second consecutive second-half comeback bid by their opposition at Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Saturday, beating Scotland, 19-14, for a place in the Cup Quarterfinals.

Mike Friday's squad is 2-0 in Pool D after a stingy defensive effort against Russia at Hong Kong Stadium Friday, with Argentina also securing a spot in Sunday's knockouts with two victories of its own. Olympian Perry Baker recorded a hat trick of tries in the first half to bring his tournament tally to four - 80 percent of the team's tries through two games. The Eagles will line up opposite either Australia or England in the Quarterfinals depending on results, beginning with the Pool D clash at 4:24 a.m. ET. The seventh round of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series can be viewed live in the United States via World Rugby's stream.

Danny Barrett returned to the side having finished his three-match ban from a tackle at HBSC Canada Sevens last month, and combined well with Ben Pinkelman throughout the first half to keep Scotland from the try zone. The pair created a turnover with a counter attack near the 10 before a Stephen Tomasin skip pass landed into the hands of Baker. The wing had too much room between him and the touch line and too much pace for the defender for the opening score, 7-0.

Baker ended the U.S.'s possession - again won by Barrett and Pinkelman - with a knock at midfield, but caught a loose ball from a Folau Niua tackle moments later. Niua lost the ball after setting up a lineout from Barrett's won penalty before another turnover by the Scots allowed Baker to corral a loose ball for career try No. 103 and a 14-0 lead after five minutes.

Following Barrett's restart win and drawn penalty on the next possession, Pinkelman took a quick tap to return the ball to his forward partner. The Colorado State University graduate supported Barrett for the offload before a fend and his own offload in contact gave Baker the hat trick and 19-0 halftime score.

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As it was in the opening game of pool play at Hong Kong Stadium, the second half was about the U.S.'s mistakes and defensive responses. Niua, drawn into two tackles in quick succession in the second half, missed the second to give Hugh Blake a lane to the try zone. Scotland's first try cut the Eagles' lead to 19-7, and Maka Unufe's knock in the 10th minute gave Scotland possession before Joe Nayacavou took the ball from the tap at the 22 to the try line, 19-14.

Tomasin made a try-saving tackle from distance in the 13th minute, where Andrew Durutalo was pinged for offside 10 meters from the try line. Friday's squad was gifted momentary respite as Scotland lost the ball forward, but Unufe's high pass to Baker resulted in a scrum going the other way. The defensive stand held through to the 14th minute and beyond, with Durutalo drawing a penalty with a well-timed tackle to bring the game to an end.


View match stats on Trenarian.com


The Eagles will earn Pool D's No. 1 seed into Sunday's Cup Quarterfinals should they defeat Argentina at 4:24 a.m. ET. The match will stream live on World Rugby's Sevens Series website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Scotland
1. Anthony Welmers
2. Ben Pinkelman
3. Danny Barrett
4. Matai Leuta
5. Mike Te'o
6. Andrew Durutalo
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Stephen Tomasin
10. Madison Hughes (C)
11. Perry Baker
12. Martin Iosefo
13. Malon Al-Jiboori

Scotland | v. USA
1. Scott Riddell
2. Dougie Fife
3. Ally Miller
4. Gregor Hunter
5. Glenn Bryce
6. Mark Robertson
7. Jamie Farndale
8. Joe Nayacavou
9. Hugh Blake
10. Scott Wight
11. James Fleming
12. Bobby Beattie
13. Fraser Lyle

Men's Eagles Sevens | 19
Tries: Baker (3)
Conversions: Hughes (2)

Scotland | 14
Tries: Blake, Nayacavou
Conversions: Wight (2)

Men's Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
v. Russia - W 14-7
v. Scotland - W 19-14
v. Argentina - Saturday, April 8 @ 4:24 a.m. ET