The United States men’s rugby team defeated Ireland 19-17 for their second group stage win in nearly seven hours Monday, clinching a spot in the knockout rounds for the first time in Olympic competition.
Perry Baker and Madison Hughes got the U.S. out to an early 12-0 lead with a pair of tries in just over three minutes. Ireland clawed back to within two points early in the second half, before Stephen Tomasin iced the match with the third American try.
The match was already out of reach when Ireland scored a third try of their own as the final whistle sounded
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The Eagles squad defeated Kenya 19-14 in their Group C opener in the day’s early session behind a last-minute try from Hughes. The U.S. had taken a 12-0 lead on tries by Carlin Isles and Martin Iosefo but gave up tries on either side of halftime along with two conversions, putting Kenya ahead 14-12.
At 2-0, the U.S. is guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinal even with a third group match against South Africa still to come. South Africa won both of its games as well, beating Ireland 33-14 and Kenya 14-5.
At the Rio 2016 Olympics – the first to include rugby sevens as a medal event – the U.S. missed out on the quarterfinals despite not losing a match in pool play (one win, two draws).
In Group B, Great Britain outscored its two opponents, Canada and Japan, by a combined score of 58-0, while Fiji also won twice against the same foes.
South Korea got a moral victory by scoring a try early against New Zealand, but the All Blacks romped 50-5 and beat Argentina 35-15. Argentina split its games by beating Australia, while Australia also finished the day at 1-1, leaving the top places in the group undecided.