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The Eagles went perfect on Hong Kong’s second day, defeating Scotland 19-14 and Argentina 33-5. The wins catapult them to a 3-0, first-place finish in Pool D and sets up a cup quarterfinal against England at 11:42 p.m. ET.
In the opening match of the day against Scotland, it took three tries from Perry Baker to build a 19-0 lead and some timely defense to hold onto it.
The first one came in the opening minute when Baker took a cut-out pass from Madison Hughes and juked inside his defender before sprinting 50 meters untouched. The second was set up by an interception from Martin Iosefo, and the ball was swung wide to Baker, who outpaced James Fleming, Scotland’s fastest man, over 30 meters. The final try of the half came off two offloads in short range of pay dirt – Danny Barrett crashed into a defender and slipped the ball inside to Ben Pinkelman, who did the same and fed Baker on the outside.
Up 19-0 at the half, penalties and handling errors saw the USA stub its toe in the second half. Hugh Blake scored in the eighth minute, and with the conversion, made it a game. Joseva Nayacavou’s try and the subsequent conversion made the last two minutes interesting, but the Eagles were able to hold on, and it was a penalty won by Andrew Durutalo which sealed the deal.
The pool decider against Argentina wouldn’t be as in-doubt once the Eagles opened the floodgates. It didn’t look like that early, as a couple of knocks and a pair of penalties aided Argentina in taking a 5-0 lead.
However, with Mike Te’o starting in place of captain Madison Hughes, the Eagles rallied to take a 12-5 lead into halftime. Te’o scored the USA’s first try after the forwards gashed the Pumas on one touch line and swung it the other way. Folau Niua added the second after Baker and Te’o helped win the restart and Argentina was penalized for tackling Barrett high.
The second half was all USA, as Te’o added a second try and Baker and Matai Leuta scored, too. Hughes was perfect on second-half conversions, and head coach Mike Friday was able to use his entire bench.