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The Eagles punched their ticket to a record fourth-consecutive Cup Quarterfinal appearance Friday with a 40-12 defeat of Wales in Hong Kong. They overcame a little indiscipline early and staved off a mini comeback at the onset of the second half to get the decisive win.
Carlin Isles was sent off with a yellow card just seconds into the match, and the Eagles were reprimanded multiple times in the very early goings. Wales finally made a misstep of its own, which gave the Eagles their first meaningful possession. Zack Test made a tackle and a poach, and the Welsh were pinged for not releasing. Despite being down a man, the Eagles charged forward, and a no look pass under pressure from Danny Barrett found its way into Madison Hughes’ hands for the try.
Isles came back on after the successful conversion, and the full strength Americans methodically put in another. Maka Unufe won the kickoff, Isles drew in Welsh defenders, and Test was the benefactor.
Hughes dotted down again not long after. Danny Barrett made the line break this time, stepping inside a drifting defender and offloading to the captain after being caught from behind. Hughes slotted the conversion, giving the USA the 21-0 lead.
Wales got one back right on halfime. Danny Barrett was lucky to avoid a penalty for unnecessarily cheeky play in three rucks rin a row. Visibly winded after expending so much effort countering in those breakdowns, he was unable to protect the post position when Niua went into the final ruck, and Wales slipped through for a score. Converted, it cut the deficit to 21-7 going into intermission.
The game got even tighter when Rhodri Williams crossed over early in the second half. The break happened when Andrew Durutalo was lured in, leaving Williams open on the wing. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, making it 21-12.
Maka Unufe made a brilliant, long break up the touch line right after the restart. He blitzed through the midfield and sprinted several dozen yards before sucking in the sweeper and dishing to Perry Baker for the score. With the successful kick, the Eagles were up 28-12 with about four minutes to go.
Test officially shut the door with about 90 seconds to left when Hughes floated a pass over Durutalo to the USA’s all-time leading scorer on the wing. He had enough of a head start to win the race to the try line. Test completed the hat-trick right on full time. The USA executed a set piece play, with Niua offloading to Test on a switch for the score.
The pool will be decided when the USA plays England, also 2-0, at 4:42 a.m. ET Saturday.