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Perry Baker’s four tries and a perfect six-for-six conversions from Madison Hughes saw the Eagles beat New Zealand 42-14 in the cup quarterfinals of London 7s Sunday. The win is the USA’s fourth over New Zealand ever, with the other three all coming earlier in the season. It’s also the Eagles’ largest margin of victory over the All Blacks.
Awaiting the USA in the semifinals is Scotland at 10:10 a.m. ET. The other semifinal pits South Africa against Fiji.
The quarterfinal didn’t start well for the USA. Folau Niua’s opening kickoff didn’t go 10, drawing a free kick. Then came a penalty in a ruck before Rieko Ioane violently stepped Zack Test to run in for a try. Converted, it put the All Blacks up 7-0. Sonny Bill Williams was hurt and subbed off in the opening possession.
Baker then leveled the table in the fourth minute. Martin Iosefo created an overload with some fancy footwork and shifted the ball to Ben Pinkelman, who fixed the last defender and passed to the streaking Baker. The All Blacks missed a couple of windmill tackles, and Baker was in. The conversion was good.
A comically bad pass from Martin Iosefo put Lewis Ormond away for New Zealand’s second try. The center took a switch from Niua and looked to pass to Madison Hughes, but the pass was short and bounced into the hands of Ormond, who easily strode in for the score – 14-7.
Baker doubled up before halftime to bring the game level. This time it was a half break by Zack Test that got New Zealand’s defense out of sorts, and Baker simply ran outside the fractured line for his second try. With the conversion, the game was tied at 14-14 at intermission.
Hughes scored at the onset of the second half to give the lead back to the Americans. He made the initial break off a looping offload from Baker on one wing. Then the ball went the opposite direction quickly to Test. And on the next phase Hughes chipped past his opposite and regathered for the try. The conversion made it to 21-14.
Baker completed a hat-trick to push the lead with three minutes left, and then added a fourth try seconds later. He caught the ball as the first receiver off an attacking scrum, and he cut back inside New Zealand’s flyhalf and jutted upfield for the first try. The second came off another set play, which set up an overload, and the wing just ran past everyone.
The Eagles added one more right after the kickoff. Maka Unufe skied to win the restart, Thretton Palamo had a strong carry to get inside the attacking five, and Pinkelman took it the rest of the way. Hughes converted, making it 42-14.