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England handed the Eagles a 19-10 defeat in their opening game in Dubai. The sides went stride for stride in the first half, but the penalty count piled up in England’s favor, leading to the result.
Perry Baker nearly sped in seconds after the opening whistle. Zack Test took a half gap and flicked the ball to Baker, who just stepped into touch when beating Tom Mitchell. After the England lineout, Baker made a big blitz tackle, turning the ball over, and the USA reversed field and found Madison Hughes for the opening try in the corner. Baker was hurt on the play, but stayed on, and the conversion was missed.
England leveled the table after a flurry of penalties gave Dan Norton enough space to beat the back-pedaling Eagles in the corner. The conversion attempt was missed, leaving the game tied, 5-5.
The United States had the ball with a penalty opportunity in its own end on halftime. Hughes called a set piece play, which put Garrett Bender through on a breakaway. He floated a long pass to Baker, who was brought down feet short of the try line, and the half ended in a stalemate.
England had a clear plan to stretch the Eagle defense, and it worked in the second half. The English patiently opened up the field for Norton to slice through, and he put Mitchell away for the go-ahead try. James Rodwell won the ensuing restart, and England kept its foot on the pedal. A penalty on Danny Barrett for holding onto the ball in the tackle allowed England to quickly change direction, and Christian Lewis-Pratt was the benefactor. The first of the two tries was converted, making it 19-5.
The United States couldn’t catch a break from the whistle, as Barrett was called for another costly holding-on penalty that crushed the Eagles comeback chances. He had made a break, got tackled, went for the squeeze ball between his legs, and England cheekily held onto the ball, not allowing Barrett to move it back.
Carlin Isles would score on full-time to flatter the final score line, burning up the touch line. But it was too little, too late, and England escaped with the win.
Tries: Hughes, Isles
Tries: Lewis-Pratt, Norton, Mitchell