WELLINGTON, New Zealand – The Men’s Eagles Sevens avoided a loss in their final pool match of Wellington Sevens, but could not find a way to hold onto the lead to force a draw with Scotland, 19-19.
The draw means the Eagles finish Pool C with an 0-1-2 record, good for fourth. Both the Eagles and Scotland will participate in the Bowl Quarterfinals.
Eagles Head Coach Matt Hawkins put a young starting seven on the field for the final match of Day One, with Dartmouth’s Madison Hughes making his first career IRB HSBC Sevens World Series start. Pono Haitsuka started the match with the kickoff, taking Folau Niua’s spot.
Carlin Isles scored what must be one of the best tries of the Series so far by running backwards and around the Scotland defense before blazing a trail and breaking a tackle. The opening try was converted by Hughes for a 7-0 Eagles lead.
Hughes set up the next try by taking an extra defender during his run and offloading to an onrushing Nick Edwards. Edwards channeled his inner Isles and reached the try zone to bring the score to 14-0.
Danny Barrett received a yellow card with under one minute remaining in the half for kicking the ball away after the Eagles were penalized. On the ensuing possession, Hughes worked with Brett Thompson to hold up the Scotland attacker in the try zone, saving a certain try. Scotland won the following scrum, however, and Alex Glashan caught the Eagles off guard to dive over for the try.
The Eagles took the 14-5 lead into halftime but knew there was still plenty of rugby to be played.
Just two minutes into the second half, Scotland’s all-time appearance leader Andrew Turnbull scored his 135th career try after running between Hughes and Edwards 15 meters from the try line. Colin Gregor converted the try to cut the Eagles’ lead to 14-12.
Hughes was rewarded for his play a few minutes later by finishing a team attacking move in the in-goal. Isles started the play with a broken tackle and a decent run past midfield, though he couldn’t find the space to ditch the defense. The ball was moved wide and forward before falling to Hughes a few meters from the try line. Niua, who had entered the match a minute earlier, missed the tough-angled conversion to put the Eagles up 19-12.
Turnbull scored his 136th career try between the sticks in the 13th minute, setting up a nail-biting final minute with the score level, 19-19.
Scotland won the ensuing restart but committed a penalty, giving the Eagles the seemingly final opportunity to score. The ball was turned over with the final whistle already having been blown, however, and Scotland took the opportunity to kick to touch to end the match in a draw.
The Eagles will begin the knockout round at Wellington Sevens in the Bowl Quarterfinal at 8:06 P.M. ET. Follow live match updates on Twitter with @USARugby.
Men's Eagles Sevens | v Scotland
1. Carlin Isles
2. Nick Edwards
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Brett Thompson
7. Folau Niua (@ 9')
8. Andrew Durutalo (@ 9')
9. Pono Haitsuka
10. Shalom Suniula (@ 13')
11. Madison Hughes
12. Ryan Matyas (@ 13')
Men's Eagles Sevens | 19
Tries: Isles, Edwards, Hughes
Conversions: Hughes (2)