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Ian Muir photo

You could probably script a better start to the USA Sevens for the home team, but why would you? The Eagles went 2-0, avenging recent losses to tough opponents, and they’re onto the quarterfinals for the fourth-straight year. Neither Samoa nor Australia made the Eagles sweat in the second half, allowing the Americans to empty the bench and for debutant Cody Melphy to touch the field.

“We’ve been playing great rugby, and that’s why we’ve been coming out on top,” said Perry Baker, who scored twice against Australia. "We’re trusting each other, and we’re working hard for each other, and that’s what helped us get those Ws today.”

“Two victories is two victories. It’s kind of what we set out to do is get a couple of wins and then set us up for day two,” added Danny Barrett, who scored twice on Samoa. “I mean, into the quarterfinals now. We’ve got Spain coming up tomorrow afternoon. We made it easier for ourselves with those two.”

The Eagles lost to Samoa in pool play in Hamilton, New Zealand, the last stop of the Series. And they were beaten by Australia in Sydney. The latter left a bad taste in their mouths.  

“Our captain told us before this game they served us very well on their home turf, and now it’s time to pay them back and serve them well on our home turf, and we wanted to back up our captain who asked us and demanded for us to work hard,” said Baker.

“They got us on Australia Day in Australia, so it’s nice to get them back on home turf, get another shot at them and give it to them.”

Before the quarterfinals, though, is the pool finale against Spain. If the USA is playing up to par, that should be a clean sheet. Then it would likely be the loser between South Africa or England in the quarterfinals.

The Blitzboks shellacked the Eagles in the Sydney semifinals, as they did in Las Vegas a year ago. The Boks are the reigning World champs and currently sit in first place. Fitting that the road to the top runs through them.

“We played South Africa four-straight semifinals last year, played them in five straight knockout games,” said Barrett, “so that’s what we’re thinking about.”

Also looming over the USA’s collective head is three-straight semifinal losses in Las Vegas.  

“We’re tired of dying out on our home turf on the semifinals,” said Baker. “So we first got to take care of these games, and then we’ll take care of that semi when it gets here.”