LONDON, England – Fiji held on to defeat the Men’s Eagles Sevens team 14-5 in the Plate Final at the London Sevens.
It wasn’t the final result the Eagles were aiming for, but they did produce some fantastic rugby throughout the weekend, securing a 6th place finish at Twickenham. The USA has been a consistent threat in the last three events, winning the Plate title in Tokyo and Glasgow, and overtaking Canada to end 11th on the 2012/2013 HSBC Sevens World Series.
After the Cup Final between New Zealand and Australia - the Player of the Tournament was presented to USA’s Zach Test. A remarkable achievement, and the first time an American has won this award.
“We lost to a very good Fijian team, and there are items we will be focusing on when we get back home,” explained Head Coach Alex Magleby. “The side is playing with confidence and guided by the great leaders on the team."
Rain preceded the Plate Final at Twickenham Stadium, thus affecting the playing conditions for both teams. The Eagles had possession first, and attacked all the way to the Fijian 22-meter, but a knock-on ended the movement. Both Zach Test and Nick Edwards took heavy contact, and slowly got back to position.
Fiji tried to attack from inside their half, but a superb Edwards tackle on the edge, took the player into touch. Matt Hawkins took the ball at the front and stormed down field, with the Eagles inside the Pacific Islanders territory. Unfortunately an error gave Fiji an opportunity to kick the ball far down field. Folau Niua’s counter-attack inside his 22-meter was met with heavy defense. Shalom Suniula tried to step his way out of trouble, but Fiji stole the ball, and broke through to score. Emosi Mulevoro converted Donasio Ratubuli’s try.
Fiji received a penalty after the restart and Brett Thompson’s try saving tackle in the corner prevented a certain score. The halftime whistle sounded, with Fiji up by 7-0.
In the second half the Eagles defense was continually tested, with Hawkins and Edwards being prevalent. The USA looked very promising with ball in hand, but following several phases another handling error turned over possession. Fijian stepper, Setefano Cakau, managed to slide through and touch down his team’s second try. With three minutes remaining Fiji led 14-0 after Joji Baleviani Raqamate’s conversion.
Magleby made his substitutions over the remaining minutes as Colin Hawley, Luke Hume, Carlin Isles, Blaine Scully and Sione Pila Taufa entered the game. This was the first international cap for Taufa.
In the final minute a huge roar came from the record crowd as Isles touched the ball and streaked around two Fijians to score an excellent 5-pointer. However,Fiji held on and emerged 14-5 winners in the London Sevens Plate Final.
With the 2012-13 Sevens World Series completed, the Eagles attention will now move to the 2013 Rugby Sevens World Cup in Russia, taking place on June 28-30.
“Our plan will be to review our matches, and begin our preparations for the RWC. Our goal, like any tournament, is to win. The World Cup is a different event, with Wales winning in 2009, proving that it’s not always based on form,” said Magleby.
Watch behind the scenes interviews from London, presented by Gilbert Rugby
Men’s Eagles Sevens | vs. Fiji
1 Carlin Isles (s)
2 Nick Edwards
3 Andrew Durutalo
4 Shalom Suniula
5 Zach Test
6 Matt Hawkins
7 Folau Niua
8 Sione Pila Taufa (s)
9 Luke Hume (s)
10 Blaine Scully (s)
11 Colin Hawley (s)
12 Brett Thompson
Men’s Eagles Sevens | vs. Fiji - Plate Final
Men’s Eagles Sevens | Staff
Alex Magleby (Head Coach)
Andy Katoa (Manager)
Brian Green (Physio)
Hamish Kerr (Doctor)
Men’s Eagles Sevens | London Results
USA 19 France 17
USA 15 Australia 19
USA 19 South Africa 12
USA 19 Australia 24 (Cup Semifinal)
USA 22 South Africa 5 (Plate Semifinal)
USA 5 Fiji 14 (Plate Final)