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Team USA avoided an upset in its pool finale Saturday, beating Russia 26-17 to finish the group stages 2-1. The win was good enough to get the Eagles into the Cup quarterfinals, as they'll face Scotland at 5:48 a.m. ET Sunday.
The Americans won the opening restart to gain possession, and some fancy footwork from Martin Iosefo got them deep into the Russian end. But a knock-on from Perry Baker would end the drive. Shortly thereafter, Iosefo was pinged for an intentional knock, garnering a yellow card.
Even with the man disadvantage, a couple of hard charges and offloads featuring Folau Niua and Andrew Durutalo opened space for Danny Barrett on the wing. He threw one defender aside, stiff-armed another and ran in to open scoring. Stephen Tomasin added another seconds later, with the power play still on. Niua's restart was won cleanly on the right side, and the USA simply sent the ball back to the left, where Tomasin beat his opposite around the corner. The second try was converted, leaving the USA up 12-0.
Russia would get on the board before the half expired. With the Americans backing up from a pair of successive penalties, Vladislav Lazarenko chipped and chased over the line, gathering and scoring under the posts. The conversion was true, cutting the deficit to five at the break.
Baker made it a two-score game early in the second half. He got the ball on the edge and hesitated a couple of times to toy with his defender before blurring past him for a long-range score. He completed the brace not long after to extend the lead further. Russia was marching, but a wayward offload ended up on the ground. Barrett scooped up the pass and reversed field. After he was brought down, the ball was spun to Baker, who went in without a challenge. The latter try was converted, putting the Eagles up 26-5.
Lazarenko's second score with just over two minutes to play threatened to make it a game, 26-12, but Russia couldn't manage to get another try until right on full time. It was Lazarenko again, finishing off a losing hat trick.