USA Advances to Cup Semifinals
Team USA entered with the confidence of a side that has never missed the semifinals in Las Vegas under the leadership of Coach Mike Friday. That confidence was backed by a raucous home crowd. Danny Barrett’s try midway through the second minute helped build the confidence even further. Madison Hughes could not add the extra points, making it a 5–0 USA lead.
After a brief period of the Blitzbokke with ball in hand, Danny Barrett forced a tremendous turnover and soon it was Stephen Tomasin off to the races, outpacing the field for a try under the post. Hughes added the conversion for a 12–0 lead with just under three minutes left in the half.
Following the restart, the Blitzbokke earned a penalty and were soon inside the USA half. South Africa surrendered possession inside the USA twenty-two and it was Martin Iosefo breaking free for a try under the post. Hughes’s conversion made it 19–0 heading into the final minute of the half. Unfortunately for team USA, Danny Barrett was shaken up in the process, bringing Matai Leuta in as a sub on the wing.
With South Africa threatening to score again before the half, a penalty gave the ball back to the Eagles. Folau Niua tapped the ball and kicked to touch to send the teams to halftime with the Eagles in a commanding lead.
The second half started with the Eagles taking the restart and South Africa conceding a penalty. Niua kicked to touch at the South Africa ten-meter line and the Eagles won the lineout throw. From there, it was a matter of working the ball through the offensive phases and ultimately setting up a pick and go by Carli Isles for a try in the right corner to make it 24–0 with five minutes to play.
The ensuing restart made it an outright rout when Niua’s kick went right into the hands of Leuta for an untouched try. Hughes could not connect on the conversion, making it 29–0 with a quarter of play to go.
Branco du Preez’s try with a minute to go prevented a shutout but still left the Blitzbokke four scores behind. And the try by Stedman Gans flattered the scoreline but came at the end of the match, leaving team USA the comfortable victor.