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After defeating Australia 19-0 to start the tournament, Team USA moved to 1-1 in Cape Town with a 28-10 loss to host South Africa. The Eagles started the game on the front foot, but the Blitzbokke pounced on some unforced errors to take control.
After an opening couple of minutes of sustained pressure by the USA, Martin Iosefo turned over possession with an interception. The ball was passed around by the Eagles feet from pay dirt, but Folau Niua knocked on the one that would have put him away.
The Blitzbokke panicked under pressure, though, and a rushed kick was fielded in the middle of the pitch. Perry Baker then drew the attention of the defense before leaving a no-look pass for the looping Maka Unufe, who ran in for the score.
South Africa responded immediately on a broken play. The Blitzbokke knocked on the restart, and with advantage the Eagles threw a wayward out pass. The sir determined advantage was gained, and Seabelo Senatla flyhacked the loose ball forward, and Cecil Afrika would scoop and score.
Another unforced error from the USA saw the hosts take the lead before halftime. When Stephen Tomasin was loading up a pass, the ball simply slipped through his fingers and hit the deck. This time Werner Kok would be the beneficiary. Both of South Africa's tries were converted, making it 14-5 at halftime.
The onslaught continued in the second half, with Kyle Brown hawking the ball after Andrew Durutalo took contact inside the USA's 22, drawing a penalty. The hosts quickly scored to extend the lead to 21-5.
Kok then nearly had a second score, but reserve halfback Kevon Williams ripped it from his grip before he crossed the line. The Eagles would go on a long possession the other way before losing the ball. However, the Blitzbokke wouldn't clear their lines, and Danny Barrett took a pass from Williams and smashed over after a quick turnover.
The conversion was missed, leaving the Eagles down 21-10 with just over a minute to play.Kok would get his brace shortly after kickoff, ending any chance of a rally.
A meeting with Russia is the only job left for the USA on day one. A win will see the Eagles through to the Cup quarterfinals, while anything else could result in them playing for the Challenge Trophy on day two.