Overtime not enough for Eagles in Hong Kong Semifinal

HONG KONG - Perry Baker's second try of Sunday's Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Cup Semifinal tied the match as time expired, but HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leader South Africa ended the knockout in sudden-death overtime, 29-24, to advance to the Cup Final.

Head Coach Mike Friday's squad clawed back from a three-try deficit in the second half to force extra time. The loss is the Eagles' third consecutive Semifinal defeat to South Africa, and will set up a third Bronze Final in as many tournaments. The final match of the three-day weekend will kick off against Australia at 6:30 a.m. ET, with the live stream available to viewers in the United States on World Rugby's Sevens Series website.

The Eagles had shown a penchant for defensive superiority throughout their opening four matches at Hong Kong Stadium, conceding a tournament-low 33 points leading into the Semifinal. An early defensive stand forced a knock by Cecil Afrika, and the U.S. kept playing. Martin Iosefo charged at the defenders with Baker supporting on the wing, and the speedster found captain Madison Hughes with a pop pass in contact for the opening try, 7-0.

South Africa seemed taken aback by the early U.S. strike, but struck back through Siviwe Soyizwapi's try in the corner in the fourth minute to bring the score to 7-5. The Eagles lost Danny Barrett to an apparent injury moments after the try, and a Baker knock in the defensive end gave South Africa the platform for a second try. Dylan Sage broke through Folau Niua and Stephen Tomasin to dot down under the posts, 12-7.

Two penalties against the Eagles after the stadium horn sounded again saw South Africa over the try line, with Philip Snyman bringing the halftime score to 19-7 by eluding Andrew Durutalo and Ben Pinkelman.

Soyizwapi further extended South Africa's lead in the eight minute with a chase of a kick downfield. Niua dove for the ball behind the U.S. 22, but the try-scorer was able to get a boot to it first to place it in-goal, 24-7.

The kick worked to the Eagles' advantage, too, after Baker's change of direction on one touch line allowed Tomasin to run into the attacking half along the other. Hughes put the ball behind the defense with a well-weighted grubber, and Iosefo was there to collect it and his 28th career try.

Hughes' conversion missed its target to keep the score at 24-12, but a turnover created by Pinkelman and Mike Te'o in the 12th minute led to another try with time ticking away. Te'o got under a Hughes high ball and Maka Unufe tested the defense with a juking run at the 10, where he found Baker with an offload for a try under the posts, 24-19.

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South Africa gifted possession to the Eagles with a knock behind its 10 heading into the final minute of the second frame, and a patient build-up made way for a burst of speed by Baker for a try in the corner. The match-tying try at 24-24 went unconverted, necessitating the sudden-death extra time period.

The Eagles did everything right with the overtime restart as Tomasin tapped the ball backwards for Iosefo, but a forward pass ended the attack. Strong tackling from the U.S. could only hold off South Africa for so long, as the Series-leading team advanced into the attacking half and used quick offloads to send Ruhan Nel over for the match-winning score, 29-24.

Friday's Eagles claimed bronze in Las Vegas before a fourth-place finish was handed to them in Vancouver, and the team will have another chance to medal on the Series against Australia in the Hong Kong Bronze Final. The final match of the weekend for both sides is scheduled to kick off from Hong Kong Stadium at 6:30 a.m. ET, with the live stream available from World Rugby.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. South Africa
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

South Africa | v. USA
1. Chris Dry
2. Philip Snyman
3. Dylan Sage
4. Zain Davids
5. Werner Kok
6. Siviwe Soyizwapi
7. Branco du Preez
8. Tim Agaba
9. Selvyn Davids
10. Cecil Afrika
11. Stedman Gans
12. Ruhan Nel
13. Ryan Oosthuizen

Men's Eagles Sevens | 24
Tries: Hughes, Iosefo, Baker (2)
Conversions: Hughes (2)

South Africa | 29
Tries: Soyizwapi (2), Sage, Snyman, Nel
Conversions: du Preez (2)

Men's Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
v. Russia - W 14-7
v. Scotland - W 19-14
v. Argentina - W 33-5
Cup QF v. England - W 27-7
Cup SF v. South Africa - OTL 29-24
Bronze Final v. Australia - Sunday, April 9 @ 6:30 a.m. ET