Men's Sevens
26 7
14 14
Men's Sevens  @ Hong Kong Stadium
Hong Kong Sevens
  Richard Kelly
World Rugby


HONG KONG - The Men's Eagles Sevens did not let an early deficit - compounded with a disadvantage in manpower - ruin their Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens campaign, beating Argentina, 26-14, in pool play Saturday.

Maka Unufe was shown a yellow card early in the first half as Argentina raced out to an early lead in the first meeting between the two teams. Perry Baker scored two tries to bring his tournament total to three, and the U.S. qualified for its ninth consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup Quarterfinal appearance. Mike Friday's side will play Australia at 5:10 a.m. ET to finalize seeding from Pool C.

The Eagles did not let a knock on the opening restart get them down, defending valiantly until a huge skip pass out to Rodrigo Etchart spread the defense. The Argentinian stepped from the wing towards the posts, crossing three defenders to dot down for the match's first try.

Ben Pinkelman, in his fifth career Series tournament, won the ensuing restart for his team and drew a penalty, from which Folau Niua kicked to touch for an attacking lineout. Niua took the ball from the set piece and sent it towards the opposite touch line, but an infraction led to Unufe being sent to the sin bin in the fourth minute.

Argentina capitalized on the man advantage less than a minute later with more lateral movement across the gain line. Juan Pablo Estelles dove over in the corner and Gaston Revol converted from the touch line to improve Argentina's lead to 14-0.

The Eagles had a lengthy spell of possession behind their own 22 as they wound down the time remaining on Unufe's sinning, and worked Argentina's defense to create space for Baker on the wing. The speedster rounded one defender and cut inside the final sweeper to place the ball under the posts, where captain Madison Hughes converted his side's first try for a 14-7 score line at the half.

Knowing their Cup hopes could be sunk with a loss in the second match of pool play, the Eagles came out of the break reenergized. Argentina won the restart only for the U.S. to force a turnover, and Garrett Bender created another on his own with a tackle and poach in the defensive half. Danny Barrett sat two defenders down with a 30-meter run past midfield and offloaded to Unufe, who acrobatically spun out of a tackle to bring the score to 14-14.

Seconds later, Baker single-handedly won the restart and raced past the awestruck defenders to give the Eagles their first lead of the match at 19-14. Baker unsuccessfully chased a Hughes kick from a midfield scrum following the restart, and Zack Test helped create a turnover meters from Argentina's try line. Hughes nearly scored on the wing, where Argentina lost the ball forward, and ended up scoring in the middle of the pitch running a superb line from the set play. He converted his own try to bring the final score to 26-14.

Overcoming the 14-0 deficit will put the Eagles in the right mindset going into their final match of pool play, just their second of day two. Australia also defeated Argentina and Portugal at Hong Kong Stadium, and will advance to the Cup Quarterfinals with the U.S. The final match of Pool C is scheduled to kick off at 5:10 a.m. ET, with a live stream provided by World Rugby.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Argentina

1. Nate Ebner

2. Ben Pinkelman

3. Danny Barrett

4. Garrett Bender

5. Zack Test

6. Peter Tiberio

7. Folau Niua

8. Maka Unufe

9. Nate Augspurger

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

Argentina | v. USA

1. Fernando Luna

2. Javier Ortega Desio

3. Ramiro Finco

4. Juan Pablo Estelles

5. Axel Muller

6. Segundo Tuculet

7. Nicolas Brizzone

8. Gaston Revol

9. Rodrigo Etchart

10. Bautista Excurra

11. Bautista Delguy

12. Sebastian Cancelliere

Men's Eagles Sevens | 26

Tries: Baker (2), Unufe, Hughes

Conversions: Hughes (3)

Discipline: Unufe (Yellow)

Argentina | 14

Tries: Etchart, Estelles

Conversions: Revol (2)