A Blaine Scully try wasn’t enough for USA to overcome Uruguay in the Americas Rugby Championship.
The Cardiff Blues wing captained his side in Seattle but the Eagles had to settle for two bonus points as Wales’ Rugby World Cup opponents clinched the victory in the fourth round of ARC action.
With one game remaining, the defeat leaves Gary Gold’s side surrendering their title following back-to-back victories in 2017 and 2018, as Argentina XV were confirmed winners of the Championship for the second time in their history.
USA currently sit a point behind second-placed Uruguay, and prepare to take on arch-rivals Canada on Friday, who have a single win to their name during the campaign.
Uruguay - who faced Cardiff Blues in the Syft International Challenge in November - got off to a flying start as prop Mateo Sanguinetti crashed over from close range to open the scoring within the first five minutes.
Hooker, Joseph Taufete’e, replied for the hosts as he worked his way over from a driving line-out. The try saw the Worcester Warriors star breaking Keith Woods’ international record for tries scored by a front row.
Will Magie’s conversion attempt sailed wide of the sticks, but a strong chase from Marcel Brache forced Uruguay into touch on their own five meter line, giving his side the perfect platform to take the lead for the first time.
Once again the Eagles made use of their strong set-piece as Taufete’e crashed over for his second try with only 15 minutes on the clock.
USA were made to pay for their missed conversion attempt as Uruguay reclaimed the lead thanks to a fine individual effort from wing Federico Favaro.
With half time fast-approachin, Will Hooley put Gary Gold’s side ahead with a penalty but it was Los Teros went into the interval with a 19-13 lead as Juan Manuel Cat broke past the hosts’ defensive line to touch down.
Favaro crossed early in the second half to seal a bonus point for the South Americans, but the impressive Taufete’e kept his side in the contest as he crashed over for his hat-trick.
Lucas Freitas’ try proved crucial for the visitors, but Scully’s never-say-die attitude paved a way back for the hosts.
The wing was fed by former Cardiff Blues team-mate, Cam Dolan, and skipped past the final defender to slide in with five minutes remaining, sealing the try bonus point in the process.
However, Uruguay’s late penalty saw them out of sight and Scully insists his side must improve their discipline ahead of the clash against Canada next week.
“First and foremost, we have to give credit to Uruguay. They came out here and put us under a lot of pressure,” said the wing.
“They made it really hard for us but we also made it hard for ourselves. We had some discipline issues and gave them territory through penalties and their ability to kick for touch to move up the field.
“Like we spoke about last week, it’s very hard to win a Test match if you give away a lot of penalties and give up early points.
“We’ll have to review this game and learn some really hard lessons this week.
“Some of the pressure came from ourselves, but also a lot of the pressure came from Uruguay, who are a quality opposition and there’s no denying that.
“We’ll have to get back on the training field and do what we need to do to simplify and go back to the fundamentals to get back on track.”