Looking For a first ever finals appearance on home soil, Folau Niua kicked the match off for team USA, twenty-four seconds later, Stephen Tomasin put the Eagles on the board with a try in the left corner. The key to the score was a liberal interpretation of the ten-meter requirement, as the wind pulled the ball back to American hands within the ten-meter line. Another steal of the restart, led Perry Baker to six-meters shy of the South Africa line earning a penalty. A second penalty when Danny Barrett tried to tap and go, sent a Blitzbok off with a yellow card. Andrew Durutalo looked to plow through defenders for the five-meter score, but was held up. The five-meter scrum worked out as the ball go to Folau Niua in the center of the field for the try under the post. The uprights swaying in the hurricane-like wind did not phase Madison Hughes, who booted the conversion. South AFrica succeeded in collecting the third restart but was instantly under pressure. Tremendous ball movement saw South Africa work through a tough defensive effort, finding pay dirt in the corner With Philip Snyman. The tough conversion for Cecil Afrika was too much, leaving. the USA ahead by seven. The United States won a scrum at its own twenty-two, but a Martin Iosefo off-load gave the ball away. Fierce counter rucking almost saved the day, but a penalty for side entry, gave Ruhan Nel the score. Trying to play the wind, Cecil Afrika’s kick once more failed. Peculiarly, the ball seemed completely unaffected by the wind that has disrupted play all day. Had it followed the wind, it would have leveled the match. Instead, the Eagles carried a slim margin into the final seven minutes.
He restart of the second half saw South Africa gain a dodgy possession from a kick that may not have gone ten, but it was not too far off from the initial kickoff. With ball in hand, Werner Kok gave South Africa its first lead of the match at 15–12. Team USA had seen worse in this tournament and managed to overcome, but South Africa is not Argentina. Despite losing the restart, a Perry Baker forced turnover, set up a series of passes to send Andrew Durutalo in for a try in the far left corner. Hughes, attempting to play the wind as Afrika had to end the first half, similarly found the wind unable to aid. Back in front 17–15, Niua got his first shot at a restart since the early moments of the match. Dylan Sage had no contest in taking the restart, and South Afrika quickly broke into the USA twenty-two. A couple poor decisions allowed the Americans to turn it over, but Hughes’s decision to back himself surrendered a penalty, allowing South Afrika to add a fourth try, this one from the man who started it all, Dylan Sage. Again stuck kicking from just inside the touchline, Afrika was unable to build on the lead.
In crunch time, with just over a minute left, Niua took the deep restart cleanly. The Eagles began to probe the South African defense. A rough pass from Niua after drawing in the defense, was saved by Ben Pinkelman. The ball worked to Perry Baker who tried a kick and chase, but the ball bounced to touch, giving South Africa the lineout throw. Danny Barrett stole the lineout but South Africa turned the ball over on the deck for the dramatic 20–17 victory.
In a match that could have gone either way, the bounce of the ball and the rub of the calls was literally the decider.
Alarmingly, USA captain Madison Hughes, whose right knee was heavily taped during the match, was limping as the team left the field.