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A methodical 19-10 win over France Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium sees the USA to a seventh-consecutive quarterfinal. The win sees the Eagles take second in their pool. They’ll likely face the winner of England vs. outh Africa.
On the opening kickoff, Folau Niua tried to exploit the space directly in front of him, but the ball didn’t go 10 meters, giving France a midfield free kick. The American defense bent but didn’t break, holding France up once and forcing a knock-on after the ensuing scrum.
The USA’s first possession ended when Madison Hughes chipped ahead and lost the race to the ball. Ben Pinkelman pinched the ball back, and he would end up scoring the first try more than half a field later. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
The Eagles had the ball with time expired, and a long cutout pass from Stephen Tomasin would have stressed the French defense, so the last defender leapt and intentionally knocked the pass, drawing a yellow card. Martin Iosefo rounded his opposite on the penalty play, scoring under the posts. The converted penalty play gave the USA a 12-0 halftime lead.
France went down to five men when a dangerous tackle drew a second yellow in the opening seconds of the second stanza. Matai Leuta ploughed through the defense on one end, putting the USA on the front foot, and Iosefo finished it off with a second try. The kick put the Eagles up 19-0 going into the final five minutes.
Once back to full strength, France got on the board in the corner. The missed conversion left France down two converted tries with about three minutes to play. Les Blues read a midfield penalty play well, intercepting Hughes’ pass out the back intended for Carlin Isles. The Eagles stopped the initial break, but Leuta was penalized and sent off.
The all-important kick was missed, leaving the USA up two scores, 19-10, with under two minutes to play. The Eagles held onto the ball the rest of the way.