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Five tries saw Team USA past Spain, 29-0, in Friday’s season opener in Dubai. The last two players to lead the World Series in tries, Carlin Isles (‘17/18) and Perry Baker (‘16/17), kicked off the race for top billing in the new season with a combined three scores in the win.
Danny Barrett struck first two minutes in after a Spanish penalty allowed Folau Niua to unleash his cannon with a kick to touch and put the Eagles on the doorstep. Hughes missed the conversion – 5-0.
The Eagles struck again through Perry Baker two minutes later. The Spanish defensive line was aggressive, trying to prevent the ball from being passed to the two-time player of the year, so Hughes kicked ahead and Baker caught up to the ball at the back of the try zone, dotting down for the score.
Matai Leuta extended the lead before the half, as the Eagles won the restart and spun the ball simply wide. Leuta was able to stride past the last defender and dive in before getting caught from behind. Hughes nailed the middle conversion attempt, and the USA led 17-0 at the break.
Baker nearly scored a second kick-and-chase try to start the second half, this one hoisted ahead by Niua, but he knocked on the pickup. Spain would concede a penalty for holding on in its own end, and Baker scored a few strides after Niua tapped the ball into play quickly. Hughes missed the touchline conversion – 22-0.
The Eagles emptied the bench, earning Grand Canyon product Maceo Brown his first cap. It was Brown who called for the ball after Ben Pinkelman quick-tapped a Spanish penalty and linked up with Carlin Isles, who skinned the Spanish wing for a try at the death.