The United States charged onto the field looking for a fourth-consecutive semifinal appearance in Vegas. Unfortunately, the Eagles would have to do it without JOe Schroeder whose shoulder injury against Spain ended his tournament. Chris Mattina stepped in on the bench and Matai Leuta got the start.
A minute into the match, the United States had charged hard into the England half but surrendered a penalty. The Eagles wasted little time, however, before getting a penalty in their favor to regain possession while still in the England half. But fifty seconds later, yet another penalty at the break down was blown and England had the ball back, though still inside its own twenty-two. But again, the flow of play was stopped with a quick penalty, this time going the way of team USA. That penalty saw the Eagles finally get to the England five-meter line, where yet another penalty gave team USA exactly what it needed: a wide-open, unmarked Perry Baker for the try. Folau Niua’s kick was just off the market.
Up 5–0 with 2:30 remaining in the half, England won the restart and tried to exploit the American defense that had heavily committed to teh attempt to steal the restart. England got inside the USA twenty-two where Folau Niua and Ben Pinkelman combined for a world-class turnover and pass out to the wing to who else? Why Perry Baker of course, who found the England defense quickly in his rearview mirror and the ball under the post in the blink of an eye. Niua added the two points then stepped back for the perfect restart kick, giving Danny Barrett the opportunity to slap it back to his side.
Everything looked to be going the United States’ way, but yet another penalty was called at the England twenty-two and England was able to get a five-pointer of its own on the stroke of halftime through Oliver Lindsay-Hague. Still, with the missed conversion, it was the United States 12, England 5 with the two-minute break.
Niua’s second half kick was again, slapped back by Barrett, but Baker was unable to come up with it. Still, despite England collecting the untidy ball, the Eagles soon forced a turnover and continued the attack in the English half. The position was used to full advantage when Perry Baker shook a tackler and scored in the right corner. Niua’s conversion was well astray, but his team was not with a 17–5 lead heading to the under-five-minute mark.
England took the restart and Dan Norton pulled England back within one score with his try in the right corner. The conversion cut the lead to a mere five points with three minutes to go.
England’s restart kick was carried by the wind and bounced into touch just short of the American twenty-two. With the crowd chanting for its home team, Niua threw the lineout and gave his squad a chance to stretch the lead. Kevon Williams tried to do just that on the right side of the pitch but was bottled up, and taken into a maul, unable to get to ground. England easily won the scrum and had a minute and a half to try and make the USA pay. A chip through the defense by Dan Norton came a friendly bounce away from doing just that. Instead, it bounced to American captain Ben Pinkelman. But the Eagles gave England another go at it with a penalty just short of midfield and forty seconds remaining.
With everything left to play for, England tried to connect with Ethan Waddleton to Dan Norton on the wing, but the pass went to touch. With only twelve seconds left, the United States had a lineout throw, just outside its own ten-meter. The eagles won the throw and then Maka Unufe tried to make for the line. He was tackled short with dangerously little support. Thankfully a penalty against England ensured that the United States was holding the ball with no time on the clock and a 17–12 lead.
Semifinals, lookout! The Eagles are flying high in Las Vegas.