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Ian Muir photo

A five-try, one-conversion performance saw Team USA beat England 27-7 and advance to a third-straight cup semifinal Sunday in Hong Kong. Awaiting the Eagles is South Africa, quarterfinal winners over New Zealand, at 3:53 a.m. ET.

England’s score came first via Tom Mitchell in the opening minute. But like in the 33-5 win over Argentina in pool play, the rest of the scoring was American, thanks to some dogged and timely defense.

The next try came when Perry Baker ripped the ball from an English runner and was off to the races. The failed conversion attempt was taken with about 30 seconds left in the half, and England tried to squeeze the equalizer out of the last possession. A pair of American penalties helped in the effort, but an English ball carrier would trip over his own feet and spill the ball forward. Martin Iosefo scooped it up and passed to Stephen Tomasin, who carried over the line to extend the lead to 15-7 at intermission.

The advantage was stretched just a couple of minutes into the second half. After a pause in the action for Ben Pinkelman to sop up his bloody nose, Danny Barrett smashed forward and offloaded to Pinkelman for the try. The conversion was again missed, leaving the Eagles up 20-7.

Poor kicking left eight points off the board for the Americans and England within two scores of taking the lead with five minutes to play. So it was imperative the Eagles stay zeroed in, and they did, absorbing several minutes with stout defense, including much of it inside the American 22. Then a strong series of offensive phases took up more time, before England was knocking on the door in the waning seconds and Madison Hughes took a loose ball 90 meters for the death knell.