Monday, February 10, 2014

Eagles Men at Wellington 7s: Day Two

My apologies for the late recap as both Friday evening and Saturday were taken over with rugby festivities and Sunday was a travel day. I kept up with all the Wellington 7s action via Twitter and was pleased the US not only put some points on the board, but that they rebounded after a heartbreaking loss to France to win the Shield final over familiar foe Spain and did so with a new, younger lineup that gelled the best our Eagles 7s have to date. 

Here's hoping they can sustain this momentum and eliminate the conditioning/mental errors that have seen the USA lose/tie recent pool play and quarterfinal matches both in the USA and New Zealand. A reversal of results 3 the final seconds against Wales, Scotland, and France would have meant 3 more key wins that are crucial for the iRB 7s standings and inclusion in the 12 team pool that is guaranteed an invite for the each World Series stop. The USA currently sits in 14th and needs to place as highly as possible at Tokyo 7s March 22nd-2rd where their pool includes Fiji, Samoa and France. This is the third straight favorable draw for the Eagles 7s and perfect timing for them to turn it on and advance to the Cup round.

Highlights from the weekend are available here.

Here are the winning recaps from USA Rugby:

Eagles into Shield Final with win against Portugal

Eagles into Shield Final with win against Portugal
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The Men’s Eagles Sevens earned their first win of Wellington Sevens against Portugal in the Shield Semifinal, 31-10, thanks to two tries from Madison Hughes and Carlin Isles and good defensive work from the entire team.

After waiting for Spain and Tonga to complete extra time in the other Shield Semifinal, Hughes got the match started after Zack Test juked three Portugal defenders. By creating the space, Hughes was allowed to break into the try zone to score his second try in just his third start. He missed the conversion however, keeping the lead at just 5-0.

Portugal almost tied the match in the fifth minute when Luis Sousa broke down the wing into the Eagles’ attacking territory. Brett Thompson took him down and the Eagles grabbed the ball before Garrett Bender fed Pono Haitsuka for the Eagles’ second try and a 10-0 lead.

Hughes added another tally to the tries scored from collegiate players a minute later and converted the try himself to send the teams into halftime with the Eagles leading 17-0.

Isles had a chance to show off his speed to the rugby-mad fans in Wellington, but his run along the wing was cut short by a successful Portuguese tackle. Not long thereafter, however, Isles got the ball again and confused three defenders with a cut inside. A few seconds later, he dotted down for a try between the sticks. Hughes’ conversion padded the lead to 24-0.

Portugal got one back through Nuno Guedes, who broke Thompson’s tackle before diving into the try zone from 10 meters. Hughes was directly behind him, however, and seemingly held up the Portugal man. The referee discussed the play with his colleague and awarded the try.

Isles made sure the 24-5 lead did not last with another sprint across the try line in the 13th minute and a third conversion from Hughes made the score 31-5. One last Portugal try after the whistle brought the final score to 31-0, giving the Eagles their first win.

Spain defeat earns second consecutive Shield for Eagles

Spain defeat earns second consecutive Shield for Eagles

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The Men’s Eagles Sevens earned their second consecutive Shield with a 28-12 win against Spain at Wellington Sevens.

Spain’s Francisco Hernandez opened the scoring in the fourth minute, getting on the end of a grubber kick in the in-goal. He converted the try to put the Eagles down 7-0.

Zack Test found space on the wing in the sixth minute and beat his defender for the Eagles’ reply. Madison Hughes converted to draw the sides level at 7-7. The score remained tide at halftime.

Carlin Isles scored his ??th try in New Zealand a minute into the second half. He took a step and, in an instant, ran around the Spain defense to put the Eagles ahead. Hughes converted for a 14-7 score line.
Pono Haitsuka, who has started every match for the Eagles in Wellington, was next to score in the ninth minute. Brett Thompson fed the Oregon State Beaver and sent him on his way into the try zone.

Matias Tudela cut the deficit to 21-12 in the 13th minute, but the Eagles were in no danger of losing with seconds remaining.

The Eagles earn three standings points at Wellington Sevens and add another Shield to the trophy cabinet. Next up for the Eagles is Tokyo Sevens Mar. 22-23.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v Spain
1. Carlin Isles
2. Nick Edwards (@ 13')
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Brett Thompson
7. Folau Niua (@ 14')
8. Andrew Durutalo (@ 13')
9. Pono Haitsuka
10. Shalom Suniula (@ 13')
11. Madison Hughes
12. Ryan Matyas (@ 14')
Men's Eagles Sevens | 28
Tries: Test, Isles (2), Haitsuka
Conversions: Hughes (3), Niua

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