The Eagles came within inches of upending Sevens Series leaders South Africa and reaching the Hong Kong 7s finals but in the end they were bested on an extra time try to lose 29-24. They will now face Australia in the 3rd/4th place match. To put things in perspective South Africa have lost three total times all year. All three have come against England with two in Cup finals. South Africa have not missed a Cup final this year. Put it all together and the Eagles falling in extra time at the premier 7s event of the year is not a big result.
South Africa has been the dominant team this year because they punish you when you give them possession or make a small mistake. That was the story of the first half as despite an initial try South Africa looked dominant. That initial try was a good one for the Eagles. They stayed patient and used Baker as a dummy to drag in the defense where Baker was then able to offload to Madison Hughes for the score. The conversion was good and the Eagles were up 7-0.
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Unfortunately for the Eagles, South Africa had the bulk of the possession after the try. Philip Snyman was the first to score after the Eagles had knocked it on. Then it was Dylan Sage to put South Africa in front 12-7. It was the third try that really hurt. With not much time left in the half the Eagles were able to reclaim the restart but were called for a penalty. With the ball added to the total. At the half South Africa looked in control at 19-7.
The start of the second half didn't look that much better. South Africa got another quick try to extend their lead to 24-7. That's when things turned in favor of the Eagles. Suddenly they found themselves with the ball and were able to make things work. Ben Pinkelman was at the heart of the turnover with some great work at the breakdown.
The first try in the comeback came via a Madison Hughes grubber to Martin Iosefo. Not long after it was Baker running under the posts on a movement started by a Pinkelman turnover. The Eagles then did well to pin South Africa deep and were eventually rewarded with a knock on at a decent place on the pitch. From the set piece and a few phases Perry Baker ran into the corner for the equalizing score. Madison Hughes had a chance to win it with the conversion but it was just inches wide.
In extra time the Eagles came up with the ball first and looked a threat to score but the ball agonizingly went into touch. With possession South Africa were simply clinical in their approach and soon picked up a try.
The Eagles won't be satisfied played for third place again. Like in their previous semi-finals they had a chance to win but came up short. Still, all teams without the experience of the South Africa's or the England's need to learn how to win in big games and the Eagles are learning some harsh lessons.
The U.S. plays Australia at 6:30 a.m. et/3:30 a.m. pt.