SUVA, Fiji – The Men’s Eagles Sevens’ warmup for Gold Coast Sevens did not go quite as planned Friday at the Fiji Water Centennial International Sevens, as Matt Hawkins’ side finished pool play 1-3.
The Eagles were in the first match-up of the day against Argentina and started bright. Brett Thompson scored his first try of the day in just the third minute to give the Eagles the lead. Los Pumas scored back-to-back tries minutes later to secure a 14-5 halftime lead, however.
Thompson again wasted no time at the beginning of the second half, scoring in the eighth minute to get the Eagles back on track. Jack Halalilo got in on the act two minutes later and a Folau Niua conversion helped to overtake Argentina 17-14 with minutes remaining.
A lineout deemed by the referee to have not been straight doomed the Eagles in the final minute, as Los Pumas capitalized and scored a try just before the whistle to win 19-17.
“When we had the ball we were dangerous,” Assistant Coach Dave Williams said after the match. “We definitely could’ve won.”
The Eagles’ second match was against a combined Fiji Barbarians side. This time, the Eagles fell behind by two tries early. Niua converted his own try in the fifth minute, Thompson scored his second try of the day not long after, and Nick Edwards scored after the first half whistle blew to give the Eagles a 17-14 lead at the break. Edwards scored his second of the match in the ninth minute and the Eagles earned their first win of the tournament 24-19.
France proved too much for the Eagles in the third match of the day, though Thompson scored yet another try. USA Rugby AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Ryan Matyas also scored, but the Eagles were defeated 14-36 and fell to 1-2 in pool play.
With just one match remaining to improve their record for a chance to advance to the Semifinals, the Eagles took on the Fiji Warriors, another combined side. Tries from Zach Test and Niua were not enough, however, as the Eagles fell 10-27, ending their tournament.
The Eagles will get a full week to recover for the first stop of the IRB HSBC Sevens World Series in Gold Coast, Australia. With one tournament under their belts, the Eagles will be better equipped to start the Series on the right foot.
Men's Eagles Sevens 17 | 19 Argentina
Tries: Thompson (2), Halalilo
Men's Eagles Sevens 24 | 19 Fiji Barbarians
Tries: Niua, Thompson, Edwards (2)
Conversions: Niua (2)
Men's Eagles Sevens 14 | 36 France
Tries: Thompson, Matyas
Conversions: Niua, (2)
Men's Eagles Sevens 10 | 27 Fiji Warriors
Tries: Test, Niua