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The United States reached a fifth-straight Cup Quarterfinal in Sydney this weekend, finishing second in its pool before bowing out in the Plate semifinals with an overall record of 2-3. The result sees the Eagles to seventh place in the World Series standings before the home tournament in Las Vegas next month.
Pool play started with a resounding 42-0 defeat of Wales, good for the USA's largest victory in series history. Everything went right in that game, with five different players combining for six tries. Perry Baker led with two, and Madison Hughes was perfect with six conversions.
Then came a 33-17 win over Japan. The Eagles were again paced by Baker, who this time recorded a hat trick. The Americans were never really in danger of losing, grabbing a 19-5 lead by halftime and stretching it to 33-5 before allowing a pair of moot scores late.
The lone pool loss came at the hands of England, who the Eagles have been unable to fell this season in three attempts. The USA conceded a 12-0 lead in the first half, but a converted Zack Test try right on halftime reeled the game to within one score midway through. England stretched it to 17-7 early in the second half, and a late Danny Barrett try wasn't enough to tip the tables.
The Cup Quarterfinals saw a meeting with the All Blacks. The USA came in riding a three-game winning streak over New Zealand, but those wins came in the first leg of the season in Dubai and Cape Town. The perennial favorites have been back in form the last two tournaments, winning it all in Wellington and Sydney.
The first half was tense, with both sides threatening but remaining scoreless through six minutes. A yellow card on Tim Mikkelson went uncapitalized on by the Eagles, but just as the power play ended Hughes was sent to the bin. The All Blacks made good on the man advantage twice in that last minute. Another two scores on the other side of intermission gave New Zealand a 24-0 lead and sealed the USA's fate.
It was a very contentious match, with the USA trading blows the whole first half. The Plate semifinal against Kenya was closer, but perhaps more troublesome, as the Eagles let a 21-0 halftime go to waste, losing 24-21.
Carlin Isles scored twice and Ben Pinkelman once to put the USA up in the first half. The second was all Kenya with Will Holder and Hughes missing two tackles a piece that led to tries.