GOLD COAST, Australia – The Men’s Eagles Sevens were matched with New Zealand for the opening match of Gold Coast Sevens in Australia Saturday and lost 0-38 to the reigning IRB HSBC Sevens World Series and 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens champions.
Head Coach Matt Hawkins named Nick Edwards captain for the first clash of the season, which was going the Eagles’ way for the first few minutes. New Zealand knocked the ball forward with the first play of the game and the Eagles took control with the ensuing scrum.
Though they did not score a try with the early ball time, the Eagles looked to be gaining confidence by keeping New Zealand on defense. Hawkins kicked a loose ball downfield and chased it but not before New Zealand’s Tim Mikkelson touched it down in the try zone for a restart.
In the fourth minute, the All Blacks showed why they have a perfect 23-0 all-time record against the Eagles with slick passing and a quick score by Waisake Nahalo. Tomasi Cama kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
The ball came loose from the restart near the Eagles’ try line and Hawkins found himself outnumbered, leading to a counter ruck from New Zealand and Cama’s first try of the match. He made it 14-0 after his own conversion.
Zack Test helped the Eagles win restarts and almost broke free down the line for a try, but held on to the ball in the ruck, giving Mikkelson room to run to score his own before the end of the half.
A tough first half started well but ultimately went against the Eagles, though stranger things had happened than overcome a 19-point deficit.
Tai Enose received the ball at midfield about one minute into the second half and was hit hard, causing him to lose the ball. Cama kicked the loose ball for Joe Webber to collect and score, making it 26-0 New Zealand.
In the 12th minute, Mikkelson and substitute Ambrose Curtis battled Edwards and Test down the left side of the field, eventually breaking free for the 2013 IRB Sevens Player of the Year to add his second try of the match. Curtis was returned the favor a minute later, bringing the final score to 38-0.
The Eagles are by no means defeated in the tournament after one match with Tonga and Kenya still to play for a chance to compete in the Cup Quarterfinals. Kenya defeated Tonga similarly, 38-0, making the Eagles’ date with each side important.
Men's Eagles Sevens | v. New Zealand
1. Carlin Isles
2. Pat Blair
3. Matt Hawkins
4. Ryan Matyas
5. Zack Test
6. Brett Thompson
7. Folau Niua
8. Jack Halalilo
9. Miles Craigwell
10. Tai Enosa
11. Nick Edwards
12. Stephen Tomasin
Men's Eagles Sevens | Gold Coast Sevens
v. Kenya - Friday, October 11 - 11:58 P.M. ET
v. Tonga - Saturday, October 12 - 3:02 A.M. ET