Eagles fourth in Hong Kong, fifth in Series standings

HONG KONG - The Men's Eagles Sevens dropped their first match to Australia this season in a 26-19 defeat in Sunday's Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Bronze Final.

Perry Baker capped off his weekend at the seventh round of the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with his ninth try, matching his scoring output at HSBC Canada Sevens last month. Head Coach Mike Friday's side had previously held a five-point lead over Australia in the season standings in fifth place, and sees the gap shrink to three following the latest matchup. The Series will resume next Saturday, April 15, at HSBC Singapore Sevens.

The Eagles had held Australia to just five points combined in two games earlier this season, but made it easier on their opponent with softer tackles at the end of a bruising weekend inside Hong Kong Stadium. Lachie Anderson was the first benefactor as Australia set up a try from the opening restart, able to dot down through a Ben PInkelman tackle. The try-scorer helped double Australia's lead to 14-0 with the next possession, using an extra step in contact to give Charlie Taylor the final offload in the front of the posts.

Made to work for Perry Baker's restart win, the Eagles were able to get out from behind their own 22 and used a Pinkelman run to the 10 for a platform for Baker to run. The speedster broke the gain line and fed Mike Te'o in contact for a 50-meter try.

Australia's 14-7 halftime lead dwindled to 14-12 in the first minute of the second frame after Pinkelman followed substitute Matai Leuta's run for the Eagles' second try of the game. The lead grew, however, a minute later. Captain Madison Hughes lost possession from the restart when he was on the receiving end of a hard tackle at midfield. Tim Anstee finished off the counter to make it 21-12.

The Eagles survived a turnover in their own midfield lineout in the 12th minute with a Pinkelman turnover win the breakdown, and a high tackle call as the U.S. turned it over kept the ball in their hands. A Baker sprint with a broken tackle drew the scores closer at 21-19, but substitute Anthony Welmers couldn't control a loose ball with the final possession for James Stannard to bring the final score to 26-19.

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Friday's side was drawn in Singapore's Pool D with Hong Kong Quarterfinalists New Zealand as well as Scotland and Wales. They will defend their fifth-place standing on the Series beginning Saturday, April 15.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Australia
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

Australia | v. USA
1. Henry Hutchison
2. Simon Kennewell
3. Nick Malouf
4. Liam McNamara
5. James Stannard
6. John Porch
7. Tim Anstee
8. Boyd Killingworth
9. Ed Jenkins
10. Tom Lucas
11. Charlie Taylor
12. Lachie Anderson
13. Tom Kingston

Men's Eagles Sevens | 19
Tries: Te'o, Pinkelman, Baker
Conversions: Hughes, Niua

Australia | 26
Tries: Anderson, Taylor, Anstee, Stannard
Conversions: Lucas (2), Stannard

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 - L 26-19