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Unufe against Canada. Martin Seras Lima photo

Day one in Glasgow was a mixed bag for the United States, with a worrying 40-0 loss to Canada to open the day and a couple of big wins to secure a record fifth Cup Quarterfinal appearance on the season. The 2-1 record was good enough for second in the pool, setting the Eagles up with a quarterfinal match with Australia Sunday at 4:48 a.m. ET 

In the day's opener, Canada held onto possession for almost an entire two minutes to start the game, which puts pressure on any defense, and the opening try came when Ciaran Hearn left Maka Unufe grasping for nothing with his deceptive speed.

The Eagles finally got their first touch of the ball with over four minutes gone, being granted a scrum on their own five-meter-line. A Canadian penalty allowed Niua to kick the ball up and get some space to work with. Canada pressured off the lineout, and at the first breakdown Harry Jones toed the ball out the back of the ruck. Conor Trainor sniped around, scooped it up and scored.

The Eagles continued to seem in a haze, with a rare interception giving Canada a third try. Madison Hughes was pressured from a scrum, and he desperately flipped the ball back toward Niua, but Sean White picked it off and spurted for the score.

The second half wasn’t any better, as Canada put the game away in the opening minute with a pair of offloads from John Moonlight and White putting Mike Fuailefau away for a try. Each conversion hit along the way, Cana led 28-0.

Adam Zaruba bounced Hughes and carried Garrett Bender over the try line for Canada’s fifth try, and Liam Underwood finished off a well-executed penalty play to finish off the scoring.

That game could have lingered and put the Eagles in a bad way for the rest of the day, but they bounced back with a needed win over Japan in the second game, winning 38-7. In the game that would decide if they’d play for the Cup or the Bowl, the Eagles upended Argentina 21-14.

The first six minutes of the pool finale was largely a ping pong match – the Eagles would cough up possession with a knock-on or a penalty, and then the Argentines would do the same thing.

The stalemate was broke when Perry Baker took a pass 80 meters, making a couple of Argentine defenders miss in the process, for the opening try. Maka Unufe wasn’t to be shown up, speeding through the defense for a second American try off a penalty play right on halftime. Both conversions were made, giving the USA a 14-0 lead at the break.

Argentina picked up the defensive pressure in the early goings of the second half, but Madison Hughes was able to exploit that. He made a half break up the guts and threw a contested offload. Unufe tossed aside the Argentine going for the ball and hauled in the pass, racing the rest of the way for the score. Converted, the score put the USA up 21-0 a couple of minutes into the half.

Back-to-back penalties gave Argentina a five-meter penalty, which Segundo Tuculet converted for his team’s first try. The conversion cut the deficit to 14. Argentina went quickly before the USA could even get its water off the field, but good work at the breakdown resulted in a penalty and a turnover.

Argentina would return the favor with about two minutes to play, with Carlin Isles being called for not releasing after being tackled inside his 22. The possession ended up in another converted Argentine try, making it 21-14 to the USA with about 90 seconds to play.

Another Isles turnover in the breakdown gave Argentina a threatening possession in the final minute, but an attempted Zack Test poach drew a friendly whistle, saving the Eagles from a comeback. The Eagles punted the penalty to touch, won the lineout and put it right back to touch for the win.