Eagles advance to Bowl Semifinals with 21-12 win

Eagles advance to Bowl Semifinals with 21-12 win

HONG KONG, China – The Men’s Eagles Sevens dominated their Bowl Quarterfinals matchup with Scotland Sunday at the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens and earned a Semifinals berth with the 21-12 win. The hometown Hong Kong Sevens team awaits the Eagles at 2:38 A.M. ET.

Mike Palefau, who scored his 33rd career try against France, earned a starting position for the Quartefinals. Andrew Durutalo and Folau Niua also started. Niua was sent to the sin bin after one minute and the Eagles made up for his absence with a try a minute later.

In the following minutes Palefau poached the ball from a ruck and dished it to a streaking Hawkins through the middle of the pitch. Hawkins dove between the sticks for his fourth try of the tournament and the all-important lead. With Niua still in the sin bin, Shalom Suniula took the conversion from in front to extend the lead to 7-0.

Nick Edwards almost scored the Eagles’ second try after some nice work from Hawkins to chase down a kick, but Edwards was taken down just before the try line. Edwards recovered from the tackle and attempted to touch the ball down across the line, but referee Rhys Thomas judged him to be down and called Edwards for not releasing.

Edwards disrupted a Scottish ruck during the next possession and Durutalo gained some ground for the Eagles before yet another penalty was awarded to Scotland. From the ensuing scrum, the defense of Zach Test, Palefau and Niua pushed the Scots the opposite direction. Scotland turned the ball over to Hawkins, who raced down the sideline for his second try of the match and fifth of Hong Kong Sevens. Suniula kicked the sideline conversion perfectly for a 14-0 lead at the half.

“Matt is getting better and better each tournament,” Eagles Head Coach Alex Magleby said. “As a captain, he’s leading from the front.”

Edwards again was the main man to start the second half. An Eagles’ lineout from the second half kickoff was caught by Edwards, who found space for a 60-meter try and a 19-0 scoreline. Suniula made his third conversion of the match to make it 21-0 with six minutes remaining.

Scotland’s fresh-legged substitute Chris Dean beat both Hawkins and Niua down the sideline to cut the lead to 21-5 after Colin Gregor’s conversion missed wide.

It did not take much longer for Scotland to get another try. The youthful Dean regained possession from the kickoff and gave the ball to James Johnstone, who beat a few defenders for the score. This time, Gregor’s conversion made it through the uprights for a 21-12 Eagles lead.

The Eagles were able to keep possession for most of the remaining three minutes and kept Scotland away from the 22 to close out the match. The additions of Luke Hume, Colin Hawley, Jack Halalilo and Carlin Isles in the second half put the nail in Scotland’s coffin. Hawley almost reached Hume’s kick just outside the Scotland try zone, but was tripped and the Scots regained possession. Isles used his blazing speed to catch up to the attacker and force a Scotland penalty, allowing Hume to kick the ball into touch for the final whistle, signaling the 21-12 Eagles win.

“It was an improved performance from our forwards,” Magleby said. “We’ll need to make more tackles against a quality Hong Kong side. Hong Kong has great speed and moves the ball well.”

Hong Kong defeated Argentina in a low-scoring 7-5 Bowl Quartefinals match before the Eagles took the field to earn their Semifinal. Magleby’s team will face Hong Kong at 2:38 A.M. ET Sunday for the chance to play in the Bowl Final later in the day.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | vs. Scotland
Tries: Hawkins (2), Edwards
Conversions: Suniula (3)

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Bowl Semifinals
vs. Hong Kong – 2:38 A.M. ET Sunday, March 24

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