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Ian Muir photo

Argentina put the brakes on the USA’s bid for the Cape Town 7s title Sunday, utilizing a strong defense and restart game en route to a 28-12 quarterfinal win. The Eagles were the best restart team in the world last season, but they’ve struggled mightily through two tournaments this go-around. They committed three restarts errors against the Argentines, limiting their attacking opportunities.

The Argentina defense was also very limiting. Carlin Isles, who led the tournament in tries through day one, was never given the room to work in this one. Up next for the USA is a fifth-place semifinal against France at 9:12 a.m. ET.

Team USA opened with possession, but Argentina’s defense was incredibly stout to begin with. Through several phases, the Americans just lost ground, as Argentina’s aggressive, yet patient, line, suffocated their attack. Eventually Stephen Tomasin was called for not releasing in a tackle when he thought he hadn’t been held. Argentina went quick, scoring from short distance.

A second try came right after the kickoff, as Argentina gathered the restart and another American penalty led to another Argentine try. Both kicks had been made, putting the USA in 14-0 hole.

The Eagles couldn’t handle the next restart, either. The result was a scrum to Argentina in the attacking end. Luckily, Folau Niua was able to force a turnover, preventing another score, but the Argentine defense held strong through the half.

Restart woes continued on the other side of intermission, as the opening kickoff from Niua went straight into touch. Argentina knocked on, but won the ball back in the breakdown immediately. Then Conrado Roura slipped through arm tackles of Ben Pinkelman and Danny Barrett for a decisive third converted try with three minutes left.

Tomasin made an all-effort individual try to get the USA on the board immediately after the kickoff. The conversion was missed, leaving the Eagles down three scores, still at 21-5. Folau Niua narrowed the gap in short order. His try was converted, 21-12.

Argentina slammed the door shut seconds after the restart, as Niua this time provided the lackluster tackle attempt that would see Argentina score its fourth converted try of the match.