MOSCOW, Russia - The Men’s Eagles Sevens lost 28-5 against Argentina in the Plate Quarterfinals on Sunday, and as a result exit the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament.
Over the weekend it was a very mixed performance from the Eagles, who produced some fantastic rugby, and also had poor moments of play.
They were outstanding in the opening seven minutes against Georgia, shooting up 26-5, then finishing with a narrow 26-19 win. The physical clash with Canada saw them come back from 0-10 deficit, but finish one point shy of victory. The final pool match against New Zealand showcased what the Eagles are capable of, storming to a 19-5 lead over the World Series champions, however a collapse in the final few minutes saw the All Blacks steal a 26-19 victory.
“We didn’t execute today. We’re a better team then that, and unfortunately we didn’t show-up today,” commented captain Matt Hawkins. “If you look at the tournament as a whole, that pretty much represents our season. We showed glimpses of great play, like when we beat South Africa for the first time in history (London Sevens). Yesterday, the sevens minutes we played against New Zealand were superb going up 19-5.”
In the Argentina match, the battle of the restarts didn’t begin well when Zack Test took a heavy fall in the opening seconds of the match. Argentina claimed possession and put the initial pressure on the Eagles. Hawkins and Folau Niua did superbly to hold an Argentine attacker off the ground in contact, resulting in an Eagles scrum.
Andrew Durutalo tried a grubber kick from inside his 22-meter, intended for Nick Edwards, but the winger couldn’t recover and Argentina received a lineout.
Argentina attacked up the middle of the field and put in a chip kick, with the kicker receiving a shoulder charge from Eagle Niua after the ball was kicked. The referee showed Niua a yellow card, and he headed to the sin-bin for two minutes.
Argentina capitalized on the advantage and Javier Rojas slid over for the first points in the match. He converted his own try for a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles kicked long on the next restart and were forced out of bounds near the 22-meter line. Test disrupted the lineout and stole vital possession for the USA. The ball moved wide to Edwards who cracked the defense. Mike Palefau connected with Brett Thompson, who then found space and sent Test over for a superb strike back from the Eagles.
Niua returned from the sin-bin and pushed the conversion wide. Argentina kept their lead at 7-5.
A restart error gave Argentina a penalty on the halfway line and Jeronimo de la Fuente capitalized on a missed tackle to put his team up 14-5 at the break.
The momentum stayed with Argentina in the second half, with Rojas quickly scoring his second try against the USA. His conversion was good and Argentina pulled ahead 21-5.
The Eagles put in some excellent tackles in the following minutes, with Test and Hawkins leading the charge. Substitute Maka Unufe made a break for the USA and looked to be in the clear, but a desperate tackle saved the day for the Pumas.
In the final minutes of the game, Argentina managed to turn over possession and send Francisco Merello over for the final score in the match. Argentina defeated the Eagles 28-5.
“I think for this program the most important thing now is to continue to move forward,” said captain Hawkins. “We’ve never had momentum like this before, and we’ve always started from scratch and tried to build-up from that. They need to keep what’s there.”
Hawkins continued: “Whoever the next coach and administration is, they need to really facilitate the continued growth. Adding a few items here and there, like resources and players, will really elevate these guys to the next level. The fundamentals and platform are there, now we just need to bring that for fourteen minutes for five or six games a weekend.”
“This isn’t how we wanted to end this Rugby World Cup,” said Hawkins. “That’s on us, and we need to shoulder that burden. At the same time we’ve got to move forward and look forward to the next opportunities.”
For Eagles Head Coach Alex Magleby, the tournament was his final one with the Eagles.
“It’s frustrating because as a coach you usually get to go home and analyze the tournament afterwards and fix the system, and that’s part of the fun of coaching. I don’t have that opportunity this time--it’s frustrating,” said Magleby. “The reality is that change comes in waves. There were lots of lessons learned by both players and staff from this experience.”
Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | vs. New Zealand
1. Carlin Isles (s)
2. Nick Edwards
3. Andrew Durutalo
4. Shalom Suniula (s)
5. Zach Test
6. Matt Hawkins
7. Folau Niua
8. Jack Halalilo (s)
9. Maka Unufe (s)
10. Mike Palefau
11. Colin Hawley (s)
12. Brett Thompson
Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | vs. Argentina
Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | Results
USA 5 Argentina 28 (Plate Quarterfinals, June 30)
USA 19 New Zealand 26 (Pool Stages, June 29)
USA 14 Canada 15 (Pool Stages, June 29)
USA 26 Georgia 19 (Pool Stages, June 28)
Men’s Eagles Sevens | Rugby World Cup 2013 | Staff
Alex Magleby (Head Coach)
Andy Katoa (Manager)
Brian Green (Athletic trainer)
Paul Goulding (Video Analyst)