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Ian Muir photo

Team USA came full circle on day one of London 7s, overcoming an early loss at the hands of Wales by pounding Kenya and then beating World Series champion South Africa. The win sets the Eagles up with a quarterfinal against Australia at 4:58 a.m. Sunday. South Africa, which had already clinched the World Series title last weekend in Paris, advances as the pool runner-up.

South Africa went on the offensive in the opening minute, nearly scoring, but a try-saving tackle by Stephen Tomasin forced the Blitzboks into touch to turn the ball over. The Eagles knocked on the lineout, but won possession back in the ensuing scrum. Tomasin chipped the ball ahead and recovered, offloading to Madison Hughes and then completing the give-and-go in support.

Not long after, South Africa responded with its own chip-and-chase leading to a converted try to tie the game at 7-7. However, a South Africa penalty put the Eagles deep in the attacking end with a lineout, and a massive fend from Ben Pinkleman and the narrow win of a foot race led to the USA’s second score. The Eagles carried the 12-7 lead into the break.

The world champs struck first at the beginning of the second half, again using the boot to re-gather and score. It was unconverted, knotting the score at 12-12. South Africa knocked on the ensuing restart, and off the scrum Perry Baker stepped inside his opposite and beat the sweeper for the go-ahead, putting the Eagles up 17-12 with just under three minutes to play.

The death knell came off a well-worked team try scored by Andrew Durutalo in the 13th minute, as he took a switch off Baker for the score. The conversion sailed over, putting the Eagles out of reach.