Men's Sevens
14 14
7 0
Men's Sevens  @ Hong Kong Stadium
Hong Kong Sevens
  Damon Murphy (AUS)
Match 4

U.S. passes Russia test in Hong Kong

 Michael Lee / KLC fotos

HONG KONG - Perry Baker's 101st career HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series try proved to be the match-winner as the Men's Eagles Sevens held on for a 14-7 defeat of Russia Friday at Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens.

Mike Friday's squad found itself without the ball for the majority of the second half, defending its lead against a Russian team ranked 14th on the circuit. The Eagles will be strengthened by the return of Danny Barrett in their second Pool D game against Scotland, which is set to kick off at 12:26 a.m. ET Saturday. The tournament can be watched from the United States on World Rugby's Sevens Series website stream.

In their last action on the circuit, the Eagles lost out to Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games gold medalist Fiji. The speed at which the team played with its first possession was fitting for a Final, with captain Madison Hughes leading the charge to sprint to midfield. The Eagles were in full support and worked the ball wide to Baker in the attacking half, only for the speedster to mishandle the ball to turn possession over via touch.

A successive turnover following a penalty win in the breakdown by Ben Pinkelman - one of the forwards shouldering the load for the still-suspended Danny Barrett - allowed Russia's Vladimir Ostroushko to break his team out of the deeper parts of its half. Andrew Durutalo brought the attack to an end with clinical work in the breakdown as Russia crossed midfield, and a patient attack through phases resulted in a Folau Niua dummy and try, 7-0.

The Eagles spilled the sixth-minute restart and were penalized a minute later as Russia found the attacking side of the field. Vitaly Zhivatov created problems with a lateral run to open space on the wing, where an important tackle by Stephen Tomasin caused a turnover. The Eagles wasted no time in swinging the ball across the try line to Baker, who did not need a second telling to beat the entire Russian defense for a 95-meter try, 14-0.

The try was vital to the U.S. victory, as it was the final score for the Eagles in the 14-minute contest. Baker chased Ostroushko down in the eighth minute and Niua followed up with a tackle on the powerful winger a phase later, but the U.S. could not pry the ball from Russian hands. They conceded several penalties as the opposition neared ever closer to the try line until German Davydov took a tap from five meters to put his side on the board, 14-7.

The successful Russian attack took plenty of time off of the clock, and there was not enough for Russia to find a way through the U.S. defense again. A tackle into touch seconds after the 14th minute had expired drew the match official's whistle, bringing the game to an end at 14-7.

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Friday called for a more stable display from his team heading into matches against Argentina and Scotland to round out pool play. Day One for the Eagles has concluded with the Russia defeat, with Day Two set to start at 12:26 a.m. ET against Scotland. The match - and entire tournament - can be viewed live on World Rugby's Sevens Series website.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Russia

1. Anthony Welmers

2. Ben Pinkelman

3. Danny Barrett

4. Matai Leuta

5. Mike Te'o

6. Andrew Durutalo

7. Folau Niua

8. Maka Unufe

9. Stephen Tomasin

10. Madison Hughes (C)

11. Perry Baker

12. Martin Iosefo

13. Malon Al-Jiboori

Russia | v. USA

1. Vladimir Ostroushko

2. Stanislav Bondarev

3. Vladislav Sozonov

4. Vladislav Lazarenko

5. Alexey Kapalin

6. Vitaly Zhivatov

7. Eduard Filatov

8. Dmitry Sukhin

9. Yury Gostyuzhev

10. Ilya Babaev

11. Ivan Kotov

12. German Davydov

13. Timur Urazakov

Men's Eagles Sevens | 14

Tries: Niua, Baker

Conversions: Hughes (2)

Russia | 7

Tries: Davydov

Conversions: Davydov

Men's Eagles Sevens | Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens

v. Russia - W 14-7

v. Scotland - Saturday, April 8 @ 12:26 a.m. ET

v. Argentina - Saturday, April 8 @ 4:24 a.m. ET