Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hong Kong 7s: Eagles Beat England, Make Semi-finals

The Eagles are into the semi-finals for the third straight tournament after beating England 27-7 in the quarterfinals at the Hong Kong 7s. It's a remarkable feat for the team and they are arguably playing their best rugby since they won the London 7s. Until last year the Eagles had only made the semi-finals on a couple of occasions and now after a third trip they have the potentially toe move up in the standings. The Eagles will now play South Africa at 3:53 a.m. et/12:53 a.m. pt. 

England actually started the match with the momentum. Tom Mitchell, who is one of the best 7s players in the world, showed his power to run past the U.S. for the opening try. The conversion made it 7-0. Still, the Eagles responded with a fantastic grubber from Madison Hughes to get right back in at at 5-7. They would miss the conversion, as they would also one four of their five tries. 

Take the jump to read more.The next try came from a nice bit of work from Perry Baker. About 40 meters out he ripped the ball from Dan Bibby before going in for his first try of the day. It adds to his large total in Hong Kong and was his 30th of the year. England tried to respond right after and even had some good opportunities but the U.S. defense was up to the task leading to Steve Tomasin scoring a try after the hooter. At the break the Eagles led 15-7.

The missed conversions meant that England were right into it but thanks to retaining possession the Eagles had most of the action early in the second half. That possession paid off as the Eagles swung the ball back and forth. Danny Barrett was finally able to draw in enough of the defense to create space for Ben Pinkelman who tip toed the sideline for the score. With four minutes to go the Eagles led 20-7. 

England pushed hard to get back in the game and had the better of the Eagles on multiple occasions. However, the Eagles defense, which has been a point of pride, came up big time and time again to not surrender another try. The match ended as the U.S. created a turnover and Hughes ran the rest of the way for the score. 

The last two tournaments the Eagles haven't been able to make it into the final. They will have their work cut out for them against South Africa who have yet to miss a final this season. 

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