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You can’t draw up a better start to a match than the one the Eagles deployed in their 40-12 win over Canada Saturday. With four tries and won restarts in as many minutes, Team USA slammed the door shut before halftime. Perry Baker chipped in four tries along the way.
The win sees the USA finish second in Pool D and advance to the quarterfinals where they’ll face Fiji at 8:28 p.m. Saturday.
Danny Barrett snatched the opening restart, and on the next phase Martin Iosefo lined up on the wing next to Perry Baker at center. They ran a predetermined switch, setting Iosefo free up the middle of the field. Baker followed and was rewarded with a try when Iosefo cut back and dished to his inside.
Niua made the next kickoff contestable, too, and Maka Unufe leapt to slap the ball back to his team. Ben Pinkelman scooped it up and moved it away. Barrett then took on two defenders and offloaded out-the-back to Baker, putting him away for his second try of the half.
On the next kickoff, Barrett got his hands on the ball and Unufe gathered it off the turf. Baker didn’t score this one, but he did link offloads from Unufe to him and himself to Pinkelman, putting the Colorado State alum away for the USA’s third score.
Barrett and Unufe again teamed up to win the ensuing restart, but Canada would make the Americans go through the phases this time. Eventually Niua poked a grubber into the try zone, Canada touched it down, resulting in a 22-meter. At this point, the USA had scored three tries before Canada had even managed to complete a pass.
Iosefo hauled in the 22-meter dropout easily, and the ball was shifted wide to Barrett, who made a no-look pass to Baker. The reigning player of the year sliced back inside the Canadian defense to complete his first-half hat-trick.
Stephen Tomasin converted all four tries, putting the Eagles up 28-0 inside the last minute of the half. Canada would get some reprieve when Pinkelman was pinged for a breakdown penalty and Harry Jones scored off the ensuing lineout, making it 28-7 at intermission.
Baker nabbed his four-bagger early in the second half. Canada started with possession, but Barrett won it back with a breakdown penalty. Off the ensuing lineout, Iosefo attracted the defense enough to put Baker away again.
The Eagles won the next restart with Barrett batting the ball back and Unufe picking it up. He threaded a pass to Unufe, setting him free through the broken Canadian defense for the USA’s sixth try of the contest. Tomasin failed to convert Baker’s score, so the scoreboard read 40-7.
Canada stemmed the onslaught with two tries in garbage time. A series of offloads eventually put John Moonlight into paydirt. Jones slipped an offload leading to the other, too.