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For the first time since 2009, the United States have earned a berth in the Cup semifinals in the Vegas 7s. In what is most likely a preview of Olympic qualifying, the United States shut out Canada 20-0 at Sam Boyd Stadium tonight.
The United States started the game on defense, with Canada probing back and forth. The Eagle defense held and was able to force a knock on in a ruck to turnover possession. The Eagles capitalized on their first possession after swinging the ball to both sides of the field. Danny Barrett found himself on the outside of his defender and with an acrobatic dive for the pilon, scored the opening points of the game. It was unclear wether Barrett was dragged into touch, and the referee had to refer to the Television Match Official in order to award the try.
The Eagles scored two tries in quick succession to take a 15-0 lead. In very similar fashion, Canada failed to catch two different kickoffs and the United States made them pay. For the second try of the game, Maka Unufe won the kickoff and after some sloppy play the ball found Folau Niua. Niua collected the bouncing ball and ran right around the flank. He was tackled, but his momentum carried him into the end goal for a try. Seconds later, Niua collected the bouncing kickoff but this time swung it wide to Zack Test, and the all time leading American scorer collected his 112th career try.
The rest of the half was back and forth but neither team was able to create points. Having missed all three conversion attempts, the Eagles led 15-0 at the break.
Unlike last weekend's Cup quarter finals, the Eagles scored first in the second half. Relentless pressure from the United States led to a score for Carlin Isles. The Eagles methodically moved down the field, and despite some strong Canadian defense, the Eagles punched in their fourth score of the game. Niua, who scored a try and facilitated another in the first half, was once again in the center of things. Niua broke through the Canadian defense and after the tackle, the ball was swung wide to Isles at the 5-meter line, who left his defender in the dust for a 20-0 lead.
The United States played a technically sound game, winning at the breakdown and playing solid defense. In the final moments, the Eagles turned over a Canadian ruck and off the ensuing scrum, Madison Hughes found the touchline to end the game. The Eagles will take on New Zealand in the Cup semi-finals tomorrow afternoon.