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Ian Muir photo

Team USA opened its account at Hong Kong 7s with a 14-7 defeat of Russia. It was a grinding game that saw the American defense shine, as Russia owned the bulk of possession.

It took four minutes for either team to get on the board, and it was Folau Niua who broke the seal. The USA patiently went through several phases against a stingy Russian defense when Niua threw a hard dummy and pierced the line for a try. The conversion put the USA up 7-0.

Russia held onto possession until the clock showed all zeroes, using a penalty to take an attacking lineout deep in the American end. Stephen Tomasin then made a try-saving tackle, Ben Pinkelman intercepted a desperate offload attempt and the ball was shifted to Perry Baker on the wing, who went 99 meters for a try. The conversion made it 14-0 going into the break.

Russia went on the offensive to start the second half. The Bears appeared to score off a point blank penalty play, but Tomasin held the ball up. A five meter scrum and three penalties later, Russia finally splashed over for a score. German Davydov dotted down and converted. The long possession saw the USA lead cut in half with two minutes to play.

The Americans won the restart but turned it over quickly. Despite conceding a penalty and not possessing the ball again, the Eagle defense held strong and forced the Bears into touch to seal the win. 

The win will be the lone result for the USA on day one, as the Eagles don't play again until Satuday Hong Kong time, 12:26 a.m. ET, against Scotland.