Men’s Eagles Sevens’ 41-12 win against Wales

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(ISN) – HONG KONG – A Zack Test hat trick and brace of tries from captain Madison Hughes highlighted the Men’s Eagles Sevens’ 41-12 win against Wales at Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens Saturday.

The Eagles’ two victories at Hong Kong Stadium, coupled with England’s defeats of Kenya and Wales, qualifies the U.S. for its fourth consecutive Cup appearance of the 2014-15 World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series season.

Fifty-try man Carlin Isles was yellow carded in the opening minute of the match for holding back an attacker chasing down a grubber, but the Eagles turned Wales’ advantage against the 11th-ranked team with a try in the second minute from Hughes. Test won a penalty in the breakdown of his own tackle for a turnover inside his own half and the Eagles patiently worked the ball forward through phases. Hughes cut inside the defender 15 meters from the line and dotted down in-goal to help ease his own conversion.

The try, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead, also took enough time off of the clock for Isles’ sinning to expire. Unufe won the restart for the Eagles and Test broke down the wing at midfield, fending the sweeper, to score his first try of the match. Hughes’ second successful conversion extended the lead to 14-0.

Another team try resulted from disciplined play from the Eagles in the fifth minute. The build-up kept the U.S. on the front foot and Danny Barrett was pulled down at Wales’ 22, offloading to the onrushing captain in the process. Hughes’ second try and third conversion made the score 21-0.

Jevon Groves cut the deficit to two converted tries in the final minute of the first half by grabbing the ball from the ruck and catching Barrett and Test off guard to score.

The 21-7 halftime lead was not enough for Head Coach Mike Friday, knowing the try at the end of the half could give Wales the impetus it needed to make a charge. The opposition won the restart and kept the ball through first-time tackles by the Eagles to move it wide for Rhodri Williams to dive over the try line. The try was not converted, keeping Wales down, 21-12.

Barrett helped stem any momentum for Wales by catching the restart. Unufe stepped a defender inside the Eagles’ half and ran down the pitch with Perry Baker. It took two defenders to bring down Unufe, who offloaded to Baker five meters from the try zone. The try was again converted for a 28-12 lead.

Test took the accolades from the remaining minutes of the second half with two tries to bring his match total to three, but they were each set up by teammates. The second of three tries, scored in the 13th minute, started with a scrum win. Mataiyasi Leuta entered the match with Garrett Bender to prop Andrew Durutalo, and the win gave the Eagles possession. Test, on the wing, was tackled by two defenders as he went over the line, causing the referee to confer with his colleague. The try was rightfully awarded, though the conversion went wide.

With less than a minute remaining and a 33-12 lead, the Eagles looked for more. Folau Niua dummied a pass at Wales’ 10 following a lineout, and an offload to Test ended the match on a high note. The 40-12 win puts the Eagles atop Pool D with a plus-35 point differential, superior to England’s plus-17 differential.

The Eagles’ final pool play opponent, England, sits in fifth place in the Series standings, just 17 points ahead of the U.S. With a victory and a sizable win in the match between Kenya and Wales, it is possible the Eagles could force England into the Bowl competition, meaning it could only gain a maximum of eight points.

Men’s Eagles Sevens | v. Wales
1. Carlin Isles
2. Nic Edwards
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Andrew Durutalo
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Nate Augspurger
10. Madison Hughes (C)
11. Perry Baker
12. Mataiyasi Leuta

Wales | v. USA
1. Angus O’Brien
2. Tomos Williams
3. Dan Fish
4. Luke Morgan
5. Adam Warren
6. Rhodri Williams
7. Tom Williams
8. Rhodri Davies
9. Craig Price
10. Samuel Cross
11. Ben Roach
12. Jevon Groves

Men’s Eagles Sevens | 40
Tries: Hughes (2), Test (3), Baker
Conversions: Hughes (4), Niua

Wales | 12
Tries: Groves, Williams
Conversions: Williams

Men’s Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens
v Kenya – W 21-14
v Wales – W 40-12
v England – Saturday, March 27 – 4:42 a.m. ET

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