The Men’s Eagles Sevens won the Plate at Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Sunday with a 21-14 win against World Rugby HSBC Sevens World Series table-topper Fiji.
Men’s Eagles Sevens won against No. 1-ranked Fiji at Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Plate Final
Via usarugby.org The Eagles earn 13 points in the standings with the win, more than they gained at Gold Coast Sevens and Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens combined.
Fiji had the chance to put its stamp on the match first, as Maka Unufe was unable to knock back Folau Niua’s kickoff. The No. 1-ranked team heading into the weekend moved the ball from one wing to the other before losing possession to Andrew Durutalo.
Durutalo interception gave the Eagles their first chance to attack and the ball was quickly moved across the pitch to Carlin Isles, who was 15 meters from the touch line. Isles juked the two defenders on him and beat them to the try zone for the match’s opening try. Niua handled conversion duties for the Eagles and began with a tough one to make, but was still able to give the Eagles the maximum seven points from the score.
The Eagles knew they were not going to defeat the Series’ top team 7-0, and made their intentions known by recovering the restart. Unufe brought the Eagles and a few Fijian defenders with him into the final third before Madison Hughes was able to support him. The Eagles went through a few phases in the third minute before Fiji committed a penalty a few meters from the line, and Durutalo took the quick tap himself through two defenders to extend the lead to 12-0. Niua was forced to attempt another tough-angled conversion, which hit one of the posts for the extra two points.
Fiji was only able to get inside the Eagles’ 22 once in the remaining four minutes of the half thanks to the systematic defense of the Eagles. With Fiji’s run-and-gun style of sevens rugby, it was important for the Eagles to keep structured and support the tackler for any potential offloads. Mike Friday’s team did just that, and went into the half with the 14-0 lead.
Isles tried to extend the lead in the first minute of the second half, but was beaten on defense a minute later by Savenaca Rawaca, who scored Fiji’s first try. The winger was able to shrug off Isles’ tackle on the touch line and beat the other Eagles to the try zone.
The Eagles’ offense took a hit with some scrambled play following the restart, and Fiji capitalized to level the match with a second try in as many minutes. Vatemo Ravouvou dotted down for the 14-14 scoreline.
Perry Baker replaced Isles after the second try and came up big with his first try of the tournament. Fiji pinned the Eagles close to their own try line and Hughes kicked downfield. The Fijian sweeper managed to dive towards the bouncing ball before Baker could get to him, but he lost it backwards for the Tiger Rugby product to gather and slide behind the posts. Niua converted the match-winning try for the 21-14 score. Read more>