- Associated Press - Sunday, March 4, 2018

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Danny Barrett scored two tries to lift the United States to a 28-0 win over Argentina in the final of the Las Vegas Sevens on Sunday, giving the Americans only their second title in rugby’s World Sevens Series and first on home soil.

Bearded and barrel-chested, Barrett mixed the power of a forward with the fleet-footed skills of a back to touch down on either side of halftime as the United States produced a flawless performance in its first home final.

Perry Baker underlined his billing as the best player in world sevens by scoring the United States’ first try and helping create the first for Barrett to give the home team a 14-0 lead at halftime. Barrett stormed through thin defense in midfield to score a crucial try immediately after halftime, extending the lead 21-0, and Carlton Isles finished off with a solo try 30 seconds from full time.

The United States had reached the semifinals in Las Vegas in each of the last three years but couldn’t make the leap to the final. On Sunday it seized its “moment” to claim its first title since London in 2015.

“It was such a team effort and we worked so hard for so long,” said Barrett, who was voted player of the tournament. “Three-straight years in the semifinals, to get knocked out and to come this year… I can’t really tell you how (good) it feels.

“The group of guys came together and got it done on home soil, our second Cup final victory ever. It feels great to be home.”

Argentina was appearing in its 14th Cup final and had won the U.S. leg of the international series twice before, in Los Angeles and in San Diego.

But it was unable to stop the irresistible momentum of the U.S. team which was unbeaten in the tournament and which beat England 17-12 in the quarterfinals and Olympic champion Fiji 19-7 in the semis. Baker scored two tries in the semifinal victory and, with his try in the final, increased his all-time try-scoring record for the United States to 158.

Argentina beat Kenya 17-12 in the quarters and series leaders South Africa 12-10 in the semis.

Fiji beat South Africa 26-22 to clinch the bronze medal and New Zealand beat Australia 17-12 for fifth place.

South Africa retains the overall lead in the series after five of 10 tournaments with 92 points, ahead of New Zealand with 82 and Fiji with 79.

Sunday’s final began with rousing renditions of both national anthems and ended with exuberant fans thronging the field to cheer their heroes.

“Some of the emotions have gone to my head right now, singing that national anthem with everyone,” U.S. captain Ben Pinkleman said. “That truly was such a moving moment and then to be able to come out and perform the way we did … was surreal.”

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