Eagles start strong in Hong Kong with defeat of Samoa

Eagles start strong in Hong Kong with defeat of Samoa

HONG KONG, China – The Men’s Eagles Sevens continued on their good run of form at the Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Friday with a dominant 26-12 win against Samoa at Hong Kong Stadium.

Danny Barrett wasted no time in getting the Eagles on the scoreboard in the first minute. After the Eagles won the kickoff, Barrett received the ball wide on the wing and stepped over one tackle before fending off another for the try. Madison Hughes kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead with less than a minute gone.

The Eagles won the next restart, as well, and worked the ball towards the Samoan try line, showing the continuity of a seasoned team with four of the starting seven – Barrett, Garrett Bender, Pono Haitsuka and Hughes – combining for just 14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series tournament appearances. Zack Test, with an Eagles-high 42 appearances going into Hong Kong Sevens, scored the team’s second try with a fend of his own in the middle of the field and a dive into the corner. The Eagles led 12-0 with two tries in as many minutes.

Samoa responded in the sixth minute through Sani Niue. Following an Eagles penalty and a lineout deep in attacking territory, Samoa moved the ball quickly to Niua, who was tackled ahead of the try line but managed to reach over just before Hughes’ try-saving swipe attempt. The conversion was successful to bring Samoa within a try at 12-7.

Samoa got the ball back after the restart and moved down the field with less than a minute remaining in the half. A chip-kick attempt was blocked by Hughes at the Eagles’ 22, and a fortunate bounce set up the Dartmouth man for an 80-meter try. He kicked his own conversion to give the Eagles a 19-7 halftime lead.

The Eagles gave away possession in a dangerous position early in the second half when Nick Edwards dropped a Test pass right in front of the posts. Samoa quickly moved the ball from a set piece once again and Kelly Meafau found the corner of the try zone to bring the score to 19-12.

The Eagles were no strangers to comebacks having overturned a 17-0 halftime deficit against Samoa last weekend at Tokyo Sevens, but Matt Hawkins’ team protected the ball well in the final frame and were justly rewarded with a try in the 13th minute. Mike Te’o sent a kick deep into Samoa’s half before his opposite number replicated the act to Hughes. Hughes set up his own chip-and-chase and threw the ball up for an onrushing Test to give the Eagles the 26-12 win.

The win marks just the second time the Eagles have opened a tournament with a win this season, with the previous coming last weekend in Tokyo. The Eagles will face Scotland in the second pool match of the seventh stop of the 2013-14 IRB HSBC Sevens World Series at 11:34 P.M. ET. Follow live match updates with @USARugby on Twitter.

Men's Eagles Sevens| v Samoa
1. Mike Palefau (@ 10')
2. Nick Edwards
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Brett Thompson
7. Marcus Satavu (@ 12')
8. Andrew Durutalo (@ 8')
9. Pono Haitsuka
10. Mike Te'o (@ 12')
11. Madison Hughes
12. Ryan Matyas (@ 14')

Men's Eagles Sevens | 26
Tries: Barrett, Test (2), Hughes
Conversions: Hughes (2), Te'o

Men's Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
v Scotland - Friday, March 28 - 11:34 P.M. ET

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