The USA saved their best performance for last as they beat Uruguay 61-19 at Estadio Charrua to retain the Americas Rugby Championship trophy.

The victory meant that Argentina XV had to settle for the runners-up spot for the second year in a row, having enjoyed a 28-8 win over Brazil in the tournament’s finale, followed by Uruguay in third.

Canada ended the tournament in fourth place with two wins, beating bottom-of-the-table Chile 33-17 in Santiago in the opening game of the fifth round, with Brazil finishing fifth.

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Fast starters

If there were any doubts that the USA Eagles would successfully defend the Americas Rugby Championship title, they put them to rest very quickly, producing a superb first half of rugby that saw them score a point a minute without conceding any in reply.

In going on to win 61-19, the Eagles became the first team to beat Los Teros in test rugby for just over a year and the only team to go through an entire Americas Rugby Championship campaign with a clean sweep of victories.

A further reward will come in the shape of a three-place rise to 15th in the World Rugby Rankings, their highest position since the start of RWC 2015 and only one off their all-time best, when they are updated at 12:00 GMT on Monday

Unbeaten in their last 14 tests and playing at home, Uruguay were expected to give the Eagles a stern challenge, but the game was over as a contest well before half-time.

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The Eagles made it very clear from the start what their ambitions were in the intense heat of the Estadio Charrúa. Flanker Tony Lamborn scored from a tapped penalty and soon after full-back-turned winger Mike Te’o added another after racing home from 40 metres.

Uruguay still hadn’t recovered from the blow when hooker Dylan Fawsitt punished a poor clearance kick from Los Teros wing Nicolás Freitas for the Eagles’ third.

The bonus-point try came in surreal circumstances in the 26th minute, as Santiago Arata slapped the ball forward, volleyball-style, from the hands of Hanco Germishuys in the in-goal area. A penalty try was awarded and the scrum-half was also shown the yellow card.

Tries from Eagles captain Nate Augspurger and Hanco Germishuys compounded Los Teros’ woes and the half-time whistle couldn’t come quickly enough for the hosts.

The pattern of the game though remained the same at the turnaround, Te’o rubbing further salt into the home side’s wounds when he scored his second try within two minutes of the restart.

Uruguay finally got on the board a few minutes later when Arata crossed, and he was quickly followed over the line by Juan Manuel Cat who cut back inside the defence to finish off a slick move.

Josh Whippy capped an exciting passage of play with the next try to restore the Eagles’ 40-point advantage, shortly before Uruguay lost tight-head Carlos Pombo to the sin-bin.

Despite being one man down, Uruguay scored next through Gaston Mieres from a move that started from deep within their own territory.

Fittingly, though, it was the Eagles who had the final say when replacement flanker Psalm Wooching scored his maiden test try.

Runners-up prize

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Argentina XV took to the field at the Estadio Martins Pereira in Sao José dos Campos for the day's final game against Brazil knowing that their hopes of reclaiming the trophy they won in 2016 had gone. 

With no pressure on the game, both teams tried to play positive rugby although it fell some way short of being a classic. After an evenly-contested opening to the game, the Argentines struck first when they pinched Brazil lineout ball and fashioned a score for hooker Axel Zapata, converted by Juan Cruz González.

Shortly after the half-hour mark and with the visitors leading 7-3, following a Josh Reeves penalty for Brazil, Argentine prop Benjamín Espinal was sent-off for a dangerous tackle.

Despite this, scrum-half Felipe Ezcurra took the lead into double figures with a converted try. Brazil cut the deficit, however, on the stroke of half-time when a misplaced long throw from an Argentina XV lineout near their own line landed in the hands of second-row Mauricio Canterle and he dotted down to make the half-time score 14-8 to the former champions.

Argentina XV opened their account in the second half when second-row Jerónimo Ureta scored from the back of a maul after González chose to go to the corner rather than take the easy three points. Gonzalez added the conversion to that try and another from Santiago Resino.

With 20 minutes to go, and despite the overwhelming possession in Argentina XV’s favour, Brazil thought wing Ariel da Silva had scored a try in the corner, but referee Francisco González needed the assistance of the TMO to confirm that ball had not been correctly grounded.

Argentina XV also had chances once Brazilian replacement prop Lucas Favre was sin-binned with three minutes to go, but they couldn’t quite force their way over and score the try that would have set a new tournament record of 110 tries across the five rounds.

Card counting

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Like their North American neighbours, Canada’s victory over Chile in the first match of the day was based on a strong first-half performance

Gordon McRorie opened the scoring with an early penalty before Kingsley Jones’ side bagged three first-half tries to lead 22-3 at the break.

Kainoa Lloyd was the first to cross in the corner after a superb pass from hooker Ray Barkwill on his 50th appearance before Tomás Ianiszewski replied for Chile with a penalty. Lucas Rumball and Kyle Baillie then followed Lloyd over the line.

The second half opened with a second Gordon McRorie penalty, but the loss of two men to the sin bin stalled their progress. Nick Blevins was the first to go for a late tackle and then Luke Campbell was yellow-carded after repeated team infringements.

Still, Chile couldn’t find a way through the resolute Canadian defence and it was the men in red who scored next, shortly before they were restored to their full complement of players when replacement scrum-half Andrew Ferguson’s chip ahead fell kindly for winger Cole Davis.

With 10 minutes to go, Chile finally managed to cross the Canadian line, not once but twice. Mauricio Urrutia bust through McRorie’s attempted tackle for Chile’s first try and flanker Alfonso Escobar added another.

A late McRorie penalty for Canada for a final scoreline of 33-17.