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Team USA fell 27-14 to New Zealand in the Pool B decider Saturday, sending the Eagles through to the quarterfinals as the second-place team out of the group. That likely means a meeting with England in the quarterfinals Sunday.
The game was a seesaw affair throughout, and it started that way, with the All Blacks scoring first and Perry Baker rebutting with a try of his own. Only Hughes' conversion was good, putting the USA up 7-5.
On New Zealand's next possession, Baker shot up in defense, going for the interception, but missed. The risk left the defense scrambling. Folau Niua, Martin Iosefo and Madison Hughes would delay the inevitable, but the All Blacks remained in the attacking end and would score to retake the lead.
Iosefo and Andrew Durutalo linked up on a couple of offloads to make things interesting, but the half ended without any change.
After the break, the Eagles would strike first, winning the opening kickoff of the second half. USA went through one phase before Ben Pinkleman attracted an extra defender and put Baker away for a try. Hughes converted, putting the USA up 14-10.
The All Blacks appeared to be away for another score when Stephen Tomasin missed a tackle, but the cover defense was ready and Pinkleman won the ball back via a penalty in the breakdown. New Zealand reversed possession shortly after, though, and this time it was Matai Leuta eating a stiffarm that sprung the Kiwis free for the try. the conversion was missed, so the Eagles trailed by just one with two minutes to play.
On the next possession, a series of at-pace offloads led to a huge break up the field. Matai Leuta got caught and tried to squeeze off one too many offloads from the deck, and it was intercepted. The referee missed a clear knock-on as the All Blacks tried to clear the ball, leading to the death knell score. The conversion was good, effectively ending the game even though there would be one more kickoff. The All Blacks managed one more try at the death to flatter the score line.