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The final pool play match for USA in Vancouver was against Australia to determine the winner of Pool C. For the second tournament in a row, the USA Eagles headed into their third match 2-0 and having already secured a spot in the cup quarterfinals. Unlike against England last weekend, though, the Eagles never let Australia into the match. The final was 29-5, and USA head into the cup quarterfinals 3-0.
The opening kick by Australia was taken cleanly by Perry Baker. The Eagles moved the ball wide to Danny Barrett on the far side, and then back again to Baker. Baker took off, stepped inside a defender, and scored a long-range opening try within a minute. Madison Hughes kicked the conversion to put USA up 7-0.
Australia had a chance a few moments later to reply, but Folau Niua won a breakdown penalty on the USA 22. In a well-designed move from the subsequent lineout, Hughes kicked behind the Australian defense for Baker to chase. The ball bounced kindly for Baker, and he had no trouble collecting and scoring his second try of the match. That score made it 12-0.
Again, Australia won possession and the chance to reply. However, they lost possession and when Barrett ended up with the ball, it was more trouble for Australia. From about 70 meters out, Barrett showed a step, a fend, and a burst. He went in cleanly and made it 17-0.
The final few moments of the half saw more danger from the Eagles in attack and more carelessness from Australia, but no further scoring. The half ended with an Australian knock on.
Sticking with the recent substitution pattern, coach Mike Friday brought Maka Unufe on for Martin Iosefo. Also continuing the recent pattern, Unufe’s presence quickly made a difference. This time, he claimed Niua’s restart cleanly and went into the try zone untouched. Hughes made another conversion and widened the gap to 24-0.
The next restart did not go as well for the Eagles. However, Australia soon committed another breakdown penalty, and USA again struck from a lineout. This time, it was a much simpler move that put the ball into Unufe’s hands. Unufe made a clean break and was in again. The USA was up 29-0, and Australia had never looked like scoring.
Australia did not quit, though, and managed to get a score in the match’s final action with Lachie Anderson going in in the corner.
The comprehensive win that sets up a cup quarter final against the second place finisher from Pool B. Saturday's action builds on the third place finish in Las Vegas last weekend. Earlier in the day, the Eagles were dominant from start to finish against Japan, winning 52-0. Against France, Madison Hughes scored a try from 80 meters out to start the match, and the Eagles went on to win 31-19.