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The United States got back on the right track with a 22-14 win over Canada Saturday in Tokyo. The USA started in the hole once again, but took a two-score lead right after halftime. The win makes Mike Friday 3-0 against Canada as the Eagles' head man.
Madison Hughes’ game-opening restart didn’t go 10 meters, giving Canada a free kick at midfield. Zack Test won a penalty with his efforts in the breakdown a few minutes later, erasing the restart error. Off the lineout, the Eagles executed a couple of offloads, and Lucas Hammond was knocked out by an elbow from Danny Barrett. The game was paused to get him safely off the pitch.
Canada turned Carlin Isles over in a tackle after play commenced, and Barrett appeared to cleanly take it back after making a tackle and getting swiftly to his feet to poach. However, he was harshly judged to have his hands in, and Canada kept possession. The Eagles won it back shortly thereafter, but an out pass fell short of its target, and Canada’s Mike Fuailefau scored off the turnover.
The Eagles got on the board a couple of minutes later. Madison Hughes kicked upfield to space, and the ball dribbled out of bounds in the attacking end. Canada won its lineout, but the Eagles stole the ball back at the first tackle with a big counter ruck before swinging it wide to Carlin Isles for the try. Canada converted its first try and the USA didn’t, so the Maple Leafs carried a 7-5 advantage into the break.
Isles stole that lead for the Eagles right at the start of the second stanza. Test took the kickoff, and Canada’s John Moonlight didn’t sufficiently cover the weak side, so Isles scampered off the ruck for a try. Centered and converted, it put the USA up 12-7.
Test dotted down shortly after the ensuing restart. Garrett Bender made the big break, rumbling through Canadian defenders up the touch line. A few phases later, Test ducked under one defender and scored in the opposite corner to make it 17-7 with four minutes to play.
Canada nearly got a score back, but Bender dragged down the would-be scorer a meter short of pay dirt, and an errant offload attempt wound up in Barrett’s hands. The Eagles wouldn’t get out of its end, though, as Harry Jones charged down a clearance attempt from Test, leading to a Moonlight try. Converted, it drew the Canadians to within three at 17-14.
The Eagles sopped up the rest of the clock sufficiently, and even worked the ball touchline to touchline to find Isles for a third try in the match and the win. Andrew Durutalo attempted the sideline conversion, and the kick didn’t find its mark, leaving the final score at 22-14.
Up next is South Africa. They USA need to win or tie and have Kenya lose to Canada, or lose narrowly and have Canada beat Kenya by a wide margin, to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals.