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Ian Muir photo

Team USA finished pool play 2-1 and in second place Saturday in Singapore, beating Wales 35-19 to open the day, downing Scotland 33-26 next, and then falling to New Zealand 21-14. The result is a quarterfinal pairing with defending World Series champion Fiji at 12:30 a.m. ET Sunday.

In the opening match, the Eagles were dominant at the onset, taking a 14-0 lead before Wales scored, and then extending it to 35-5 before Wales got on the board again.

Perry Baker opened the USA’s account in the second minute after Folau Niua put in a tackle that jostled the ball loose from a Welsh attacker. Seconds later, Andrew Durutalo added another when Martin Iosefo took the ensuing restart and offloaded to Durutalo. Bothe tries were converted, 14-0.

Wales got on the board in the fifth minute after a long series of phases. It appeared as though Wales would would level the table in the seventh minute, but Danny Barrett prevented a try inside the USA’s five meter, forcing a knock on. Off the ensuing scrum, Niua threw a hard dummy, getting one Welsh defender to bite, and then he sailed a pass to Baker, who had one man to beat before burning 100 meters for the try. The conversion put the USA up 21-5 at halftime.

Stephen Tomasin opened the second half with a try, and Maka Unufe tacked on another a few minutes later, putting the Eagls up 35-5. In the final four minutes Wales scored two obsolete tries with both benches emptied.

In the next game, it started the opposite way, with Scotland winning the first two kickoffs and scoring on the first possession. The conversion was no good, and the Eagles trailed 5-0.

The tide turned when Barrett turned Wales over with a big hit to get the USA its first touch. On that possession the Eagles worked it wide to Baker and the defense rushed up, so the last pass was a tap back. Baker picked it up, spun past a rushing defender and scored. Hughes nailed the conversion, 7-5.

Barrett tapped the restart back and Tomasin was put away in short order by a long pass from Niua – 12-5. Scotland won the next kickoff, and after a flurry of penalties against the USA, scored right on halftime to level the table at 12-12.

Team USA won the first two restarts of the second half. On the first possession Baker offloaded to Iosefo, who offloaded to Niua, who found Tomasin for a well-worked team try.

On the next kickoff, Scotland bungled the one man lift, leaving the ball bouncing on the floor. Barrett picked it up and ran in, pushing the Eagle lead to 24-12. 

Scotland won the next kickoff and Jamie Farndale scored, with Wight adding the conversion, once again cutting the deficit to one score. However, it didn’t take long for the Americans to respond.

Scotland had been deploying a rush defense all game, trying to meet the ball before it got in Baker’s hands. It worked somewhat well, until Niua kicked through the charging defensive line for Baker, who won the footrace to the ball and glided to the try line.

The conversion made it 33-19 with too little time for a comeback, though Scotland would tack on one more score at the death.

Against New Zealand, Team USA was lucky not to be down by more than two tries going into halftime, with two knocks, three lost lineouts and virtually no attacking possession. 

Perry Baker left early in the contest with what appeared to be a poke to the eye. The injury appeared to occur when he and Kiwi counterpart Joe Ravouvou got mixed up in a hand fight during a tackle.

Baker tried to keep playing, but Maka Unufe came on, also struggling to cut down Ravouvou efficiently. The first battle between them resulted in a missed tackle from Unufe, but Martin Iosefo was there for cover, forcing Ravouvou into touch as he dotted down in the end zone.

The second meeting resulted in a try, as Unufe didn't get Ravouvou on the first attempt, and the big wing offloaded to Regan Ware for a try. Coupled with an earlier score, it put the USA down 14-0 at the break.

Team USA would score first in the second half to get back in the game. Without Baker on the field, it wouldn't be a quick strike. After several phases in the attacking end, Barrett took a short range crash ball over the line. Madison Hughes converted, pulling the Eagles with seven. 

New Zealand responded immediately when Ware found space outside of reserve Mike Te'o and burst through it before strolling in for a score. The conversion put the All Blacks up 21-7 with a couple of minutes to play. 

A promising American break by Iosefo was cut short when Andrew Durutalo couldn't haul in an offload 10 meters from pay dirt. The USA would score, but Te'o dove over with too little time left on the clock for another restart