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Danny Barrett charging ahead against Wales. Martin Seras Lima photo

The United States got its best win of the season in its second pool match of Port Elizabeth, downing Wales, 38-12. The game was much closer than that until the final couple of minutes, but Eagles did what they needed to do to shut the gate.  

Wales opened up with the first score, patiently going through a few phases before crashing over from short distance on the wing. The conversion was missed.

The United States got on the offensive immediately thereafter, when Parry Baker slipped past his opposite and burned up the touch line. The sweeper was able to rein him in near the five-meter line, but Maka Unufe knocked on. A penalty on Wales kept the Americans in the attacking end, and Baker would eventually dot down off a scrum. The early tries were unconverted, and the game was tied at 5-5. 

Captain Madison Hughes then put the Eagles on top off turnover ball. The Welsh let the pill hit the ground when being pushed toward the touch line in attack, and Zack Test picked it up, passed to Folau NIua, who found Hughes. The Dartmouth man ran in untouched. Converted, the try put the Eagles up, 12-5, which is how the half would end.

Seconds after intermission, Unufe took a crease through the Welsh defense for a short-range try. The conversion saw the Eagles up, 19-5. Wales rebutted immediately, as a penalty put the Welsh on the front foot right after the kickoff. They moved the ball quickly to the opposite end of the field after toeing through, and Baker was fended and beat for the score. Following the conversion, Wales trailed by just seven, 19-12.

Andrew Durutalo seemed to have scored after a nice individual effort. He got the ball on the wing, slowed down so as to wait for support, saw his defender sleeping, and ran round him. His foot slipped into touch before he was able to ground the ball, though, and video review negated the effort.

Nonetheless, the United States was able to get the score it needed to feel comfortable. The Welsh again threw the ball away, this time to Martin Iosefo, who had come on for Durutalo. Shortly thereafter, a give-and-go between Niua and Hughes put Niua in.

On the ensuing kickoff, Danny Barrett snatched the ball out of the air and ran in untouched for another score. The Eagles weren’t done, as Carlin Isles would race around the edge at the death. The win sets the Eagles up with an all-important clash with Kenya to end day one. A win will see them through to the Cup Quarterfinals.

USA 38
Tries: Barrett, Hughes, Isles, Niua, Unufe, Baker
Cons: Hughes (4)

Wales 12
Tries: Bennett, Morgan
Cons: Williams