Uruguay and the United States fought out a tense 27-27 draw in the opening leg of their Rugby World Cup qualifier in Montevideo.
Los Teros scrum-half Agustin Ormachea grabbed a try five minutes from time to level the tie and boost his side's hopes of a place in the tournament in England next year.
The winners of the second-leg in Atlanta next Saturday will go into Pool B with South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and an Asian qualifier, while the loser goes into a further playoff.
Uruguay had the better of the first 40 minutes and moved into a 19-6 lead with centre Joaquin Prada scoring a try and fly-half Felipe Berchesi booting four penalties.
But the Eagles went over for a vital try just before half-time with prop Phil Thiel barging his way over to close the deficit to only six points.
They took that momentum into the early minutes of the second period and scored further tries through Northampton forward Samu Manoa and Saracens winger Chris Wyles to turn the match in their favour.
Replacement prop Nick Wallace was sin-binned with seven minutes left and Uruguay quickly took advantage with Ormachea's score, but Berchesi missed the conversion that would have given them a shock win.
"We are very happy about the match we played," said Berchesi, who ended with 17 points. "We were not the favourites and most people were expecting us to lose easily.
"The qualifier is still open and I hope we can have a great match away but we need to make no mistakes."