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The USA capped off an impressive day two at the Hamilton 7s with a 31-12 victory over Argentina. After disappointingly missing out on the cup quarters, the Eagles salvaged eight points in the series standings by winning the Challenge Trophy.
The opening kickoff from Folau Niua went unclaimed thanks to great aerial pressure and the ball bounced through a set of Argentina hands causing a chaotic first few seconds. Danny Barrett stopped up the ball and ran it inside the five meter line but out sprinted his support. Barrett was penalized for failing to release and the try went begging.
Argentina kicked to touch but the Eagles stole the lineout and went on the attack. Martin Iosefo gained a few meters and off the ensuing ruck. Niua threw a well executed miss pass to Barrett out wide and this time the bruising forward dragged a defender in the try zone for the games opening score.
Barrett got his second right off the restart. Make Enufe tapped the kick back and after a few passes, Perry Baker drew the outside defender and Barrett sprinted into the right corner for the second time, once again barreling over the sweeper in the process. The United States led 10-0.
Once again the kickoff wreaked havoc on the USA opponent. Unufe was hit while in the air and two Argentine defenders were injured on the play. To add insult to injury, one of the players was sent to sin bin for the hit and Argentina played down a man.
The United States did not capitalize on the man advantage, however. With 30 seconds left in the half, Argentina ran through several phases and after a few crisp offloads, added a score in the corner. Argentina won the following kickoff but threw the ball into touch for a halftime score of 10-5.
The Eagles took the second half comeback and immediately dismissed the notion of an Argentina comeback. The ball went wide and Baker found the edge for another try. Minutes later, Folau Niua faked a switch and snuck through an Argentina tackle for a try from 40 meters out to extend the lead to 24-5.
Argentina scored a beautiful try to make it 24-12 with a little over two minutes to go. Marcos Moroni picked off the back of a ruck and found space out left. With Niua oncoming, Moroni put on a perfectly executed grubber kick that he touched down in the corner of the try zone.
The United States added one more score after a strong run from Barrett. The University of Cal grad, acutely placed the ball and picked it back up after a tackle and went on to draw several defenders just inside the opposing 22. One pass right and quick step inside by Ben Pinkelman gave the Eagles a 31-12 victory.
The United States will now return home and start to prepare for the next stop on the HSBC World Series in Las Vegas on March 2-3.