TOKYO, Japan – The Men’s Eagles Sevens opened Tokyo Sevens with a hard-fought, 24-17, comeback victory against Samoa.
The match started sloppy as both teams attempted to prove who could lose the ball forward more times than the other. The Eagles knocked on deep inside their own territory in the second minute, which set up Samoa less then ten meters from the try line. Sani Niue grabbed the ball from the ensuing scrum and fooled Madison Hughes with a dummy to dot down between the uprights. Patrick Faapale converted to give Samoa the first lead of the match, 7-0.
Zack Test reached high enough to knock the ball back to his teammates before they eventually reach Samoa’s 22. They lost it forward, however, and Samoa gained possession to cycle through possession until Gregory Foe beat three tackles into the try zone to extend Samoa’s lead to 12-0.
Samoa managed to score one more try in the final minute of the first half through Ritchie Ah Chong. The No. 10 beat Test and Nick Edwards to the wing and reached through both tacklers to dot down beyond the try line.
The Eagles did not have many opportunities in the first half in suffering three tries, but there was still a second frame to make a dent in the 17-0 deficit.
Samoa was penned down just outside of the try zone in the ninth minute and Test grabbed the ball in the counterruck. While still on the ground, he reached back to give Brett Thompson the ball before the Arizona graduate ran into the try zone. The Eagles were on the board with five minutes left down, 5-0.
Hughes chipped the ball deep into Samoan territory and showed some flashes of the absent Carlin Isles to score the Eagles’ second try. Hughes successfully kicked the conversion to draw the Eagles within five, 17-12.
Test broke a tackle and fended off another tackler before circling into the try zone to give the Eagles the lead in the 12th minute. Andrew Durutalo, who had come on as substitute at the beginning of the half, grabbed the following restart and also filled Isles’ role with a pacey run into the corner to give the Eagles a 24-17 cushion and win.
The win puts the Eagles into a first-place tie in Pool C with Fiji, who defeated France, 22-19. Fiji will be the Eagles’ next foe, with the second match set to kick off at 12:18 P.M. ET. Watch the Eagles live from Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium on Universal Sports and follow live tweets by following @USARugby on Twitter.
Men's Eagles Sevens| v Samoa
1. Mike Palefau
2. Nick Edwards
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Brett Thompson
7. Marcus Satavu
8. Andrew Durutalo
9. Pono Haitsuka
10. Mike Te'o
11. Madison Hughes
12. Ryan Matyas
Men's Eagles Sevens | 24
Tries: Thompson, Hughes, Test, Durutalo
Conversions: Hughes (2)
Men's Eagles Sevens | Tokyo Sevens
v Fiji - Saturday, March 22 - 12:18 A.M. ET
v France - Saturday, March 22 - 4:30 A.M. ET