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Team USA went 1-1-1 on day one in London, beating Samoa 12-5 to start the day, then falling 14-10 to South Africa and tying Canada 12-12. The results were good enough to finish second in Pool A. The Eagles ended the group stage tied in points with Canada, but a superior point differential sees them through to the Cup quarterfinals for an eighth time this season. They're set to face New Zealand at 6:42 a.m. ET.
Against Samoa to start the day, Perry Baker opened the scoring off a penalty play near the attacking 22, not long after he knocked on just short of the line during another probe. Madison Hughes didn’t convert, leaving the USA up 5-0. Samoa would erase the deficit just before halftime, with Belgium Tuatagaloa scoring an unconverted, hard-earned try to tie the game going into intermission.
The Eagles turned defense into offense for a second try to start the second half, with Baker saving a try by forcing his opposite into touch. From the lineout Hughes challenged the Samoan defense with his heels on his own goal line, winning, and feeding Baker. Hughes continued in support and was rewarded with a pass for the score. He converted, making it 12-5 to the USA. Manu Samoa threatened to level the game on a couple of occasions but couldn’t cross the line.
The Eagles dug themselves a hole in the second match against South Africa, as Seabelo Senatla put the Blitzbokke up 7-0 with a score from an attacking lineout after an American turnover. Then Cecil Afrika scored right off the second half kickoff, putting the Boks up 14-0.
The Eagles managed two late tries, the first of which coming in the 13th minute via Nate Augspurger on a broken lineout, but a missed conversion meant there wouldn’t be enough time to complete a comeback. The second was through Ben Leatigaga.
In the pool finale against Canada, they labored to get their first try, eventually scoring after a long possession in which they went to both sidelines on multiple occasions. In the end, it was a give-and-go between Perry Baker and Madison Hughes, with Hughes taking a hard inside line off Baker that got the USA past the Canadian defense. He fed Baker to beat the last man, and the wing carried it over. The conversion was missed.
Canada took the lead right on halftime. Harry Jones made the initial break, but the ball squirted loss from the breakdown. Madison Hughes dove on top of it, but John Moonlight ripped it from him and the American defense couldn’t organize before Conor Trainor got the ball in space for a try. Converted, the score put Canada up 7-5 going into halftime.
Moonlight appeared to have scored his own try early in the second half off a turnover from the USA, but Martin Iosefo was able to hold the ball up to prevent it being grounded in the try zone. The Eagles effectively cleared the threat, and off a lineout play Baker proved too fast for Canada with a long-range try. The conversion was good, pushing the USA up 12-7.
Canada leveled the table with three minutes to play. Baker took the ball into contact, and Canada poured two counter-ruckers into the tackle area. The ball squirted free, and Matt Mullins scooped up the loose ball and ran in untouched. The conversion was missed, leaving the score tied at 12-12.
The Eagles had two attacking penalties in the final minute, the latter coming at full time just five meters from the try line. Hughes, knowing all the USA needed to advance was a tie, kicked the ball out to end the game.