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A pair of long-distance individual efforts put the Eagles over the top against Australia, 14-7, in the Cup Quarterfinals Sunday in Glasgow. The win secures the USA its second Plate Semifinal of the season where Fiji awaits.
Australia got on the board first too quickly and too easily, with Australia going one touch line to the other without much in the movement, but Pama Fou simply made Andrew Durutalo look like he was in quick sand and ran in for a try.
On a possession with about two-and-a-half minutes to go in the first half, Zack Test was tackled awkwardly near his own try line, leaving him grasping his left leg in pain. He came off with the injury, and Matai Leuta came on.
The ball was hard to hold onto, and sharp cuts were hard to make, in the typically Scottish weather, making much of the first half sloppy. With Australia coughing the slippery ball up about five meters from pay dirt, the Eagles were awarded a scrum, from which Perry Baker made one guy miss and outran the rest of the Aussie defense for the score. Hughes converted, tying the game at 7-7 going into the break.
The USA’s second score came from a scrum, too. This one was a few minutes into the second half, and it was Maka Unufe tugging through one tackle and then gassing the rest of Australia for his own 80-meter try. Converted, it put the USA up 14-0.
Put under pressure by an Australian kick, Baker decided to kick a loose ball out the back of his own try zone, giving Australia a five-meter scrum with a minute to play. Luckily for the Eagles, Australia couldn’t convert, as Fou knocked on a pass from Cameron Clark. The USA drained the rest of the clock, securing the win.
The USA has beaten Fiji this season, so a Cup final appearance is not out of the question. The Eagles take flight in the semifinal at 10:59 a.m. ET.