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Team USA squandered a 14-point lead to lose to Kenya 24-19 in the Canada Sevens semifinals Sunday at BC Place. The match was tied 19-19 with no time left, but it was Kenya that came up with the play in the end. The loss relegates the Eagles to the bronze medal match against South Africa at 8:52 p.m.
The match couldn’t have started much better for the Eagles, with early tries giving them a 14-0 advantage. The first was scored by Baker from about 10 meters out, as he juked his way through two defenders on the tail end of several phases. The second was scored by Baker seconds later, when Barrett swatted the ball back to him and he ran in untouched. Niua converted both tries.
Kenya would then string together its own long possession off the next kickoff. Nelson Oyoo, maybe the most electric player on the circuit outside Baker, skinned Barrett and Niua on the wing for a converted try.
Kenya’s second try was just the result of an aggressive, but foolish, mistake from the Eagles. With time expired, Kenya was penalized at midfield. Niua punted to touch for a lineout. The Eagles went through three phases in the attacking end before Niua was tackled, and when he offloaded, it was Collins Injera making the catch. He jetted forward and sailed a pass to Oyoo, who gathered it on the bounce and beat Isles to the corner.
Both Kenya and the USA squandered early possessions with uncharacteristic turnovers in the second half. The stalemate was broken by Isles, who was on the receiving end of a rainbow pass from Niua which floated impressively over the head of a Kenyan and into the hands of Isles, who won the race to the try line. Niua missed the conversion – 19-12.
Kenya came back right away, scoring directly off the restart like the Eagles have so often, centering the score and knocking over the conversion to tie the game at 19-19. The restart would come with about 30 seconds left on the clock.
The Eagles would win the restart, but Kevon Williams ended up isolated taking the ball into contact. Niua came in at the last second and secured the ball, but he was turned over immediately, and Kenya sliced through the broken defense after two offloads for the score.