As the smoke from the pyrotechnics faded, the crowd remained jubilant.Team USA has given the fans who make the journey to Vegas a lot to cheer for over the years, including consecutive semifinals. A try for Martin Iosefo fifty-seven seconds in against England joined that list. Madison Hughes, trying to play the difficult wind just missed the conversion attempt. The long restart was collected by England, and a penalty was awarded shortly after. England looked desperate to slow things down and take the momentum back from the Eagles. A monstrous hit from Martin Iosefo, despite not costing England possession brought the crowd to their feet. Smashing rugby saw possession flip several times before the Americans won a penalty at their own twenty-two. Folau Niua kicked for touch, setting a lineout at the USA ten. Danny Barrett came down with the lineout and the ball worked wide to Perry Baker who had the pace to hook it back under the post. Remarkably, it was Baker’s first try of the tournament. Hughes enjoyed the easy spot for the kick and duly slotted it home.
The restart Just barely missed a perfect bounce up to Barrett for yet another try, instead it was a knock-on, leading to an English scrum. England won the scrum, got it wide to Dan Norton who chipped over Niua and outpaced the combined efforts of Niua and Iosefo. The desert wind proved kind to the home team, as a perfectly struck conversion was bent back by the fierce gusts. At the half, team USA led 12–5.
With the wind at their backs, the English kickoff floated a little long and allowed Iosefo to collect it without much trouble. Andrew Durutalo found Iosefo on the wing, but there was little room, leading to a lineout for England when Iosefo could not quite find Barrett for the offload. Barrett masterfully stole the lineout throw, but his offload for Stephen Tomasin was not as smooth, leading to another lineout. Yet again, the Eagles stole the English throw. Poor passes in tricky winds sent the Americans retreating, but Iosefo’s pass to his captain on the wing, made great territory, and Hughes maintained American possession when he found Iosefo in support. The Eagles were not able to score directly from the maneuver, but won a penalty ten meters out with four and a half minutes left. Coach Friday brought in a fresh Ben Pinkelman to spell Durutalo, having brought Maka Unufe to replace Baker earlier in the half. A second penalty allowed Niua to tap and pass to Pinkelman on the wing for the huge try. Following the try, Matai Leuta came in for Barret and Baker returned in place of Iosefo. With 1:43 remaining, England’s Richard de Carpentier managed to get Hughes out of position and exploit the gap for a try. The wind once again destroyed any chance at the conversion, keeping team USA in front by seven. Baker took the restart masterfully, and the Eagles looked to have something going when they hit Leuta on the wing. As the seconds ticked away. Captain Tom Mitchell found a gap and scored under the post. He quickly added the conversion leaving just enough time for the restart. England won the sloppy restart and worked an overload on the wing for the full time score by Tom Bowen. After the conversion: England 24, USA 17.
Although a dissatisfying result, the matchup as the two-seed is arguably more favorable. Regardless of the matchup, team USA will need to bounce back to post a crucial win against Argentina this evening.