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The USA opened its Hong Kong campaign with a 17-14 loss to Kenya in their only Day One game. Kenya dominated possession and won the restart battle, putting USA behind the eight ball from the get-go.
Kenya won the opening kick and took the ball into one ruck before Andrew Amonde noticed no sweeper behind the American defensive line. He popped a kick over the Eagles, gathered it and scored.
The Eagles returned the favor when Shalom Suniula drilled a clearance kick deep down the field from near his own touch line. Carlin Isles raced to the ball and had a lucky bounce put it directly in his hands before running in cleanly for the try. Suniula converted to tie the game at 7-7.
Kenya regained the lead on the next series of play, again taking the restart. They worked the ball through a couple of phases and Dennis Ombachi broke away after evading a high arm tackle attempt from Colin Hawley. Ombachi’s try wasn’t converted, making it 12-7 going into the half.
Kenya had to cross the line twice to score its next try. Ombachi got into the try zone off of some enterprising loose play, but a tackle from Hawley and a hustle play from Luke Hume to get under the ball resulted in it being held up and a Kenyan five-meter scrum. Kenya went weak to the side of the field defended by Isles, the speedster missed his one-up tackle, and Ombachi went in for his second try of the game.
The Eagles then won just their second restart of the contest and went through several phases to put Matt Hawkins in for a score. The captain put in a lot of effort for the try, working from touch line to touch line to get into position. Folau Niua converted the difficult two points, drawing the Eagles within three at 17-14 with just under two minutes to play.
The US got three possessions before the final whistle, but lost two by being held up in the tackle and the final one via a penalty at the breakdown.
Next up for the USA is France at 9:50pm CST, 10:50 Eastern.
Tries: Isles, Hawkins
Cons: Suniula, Niua
Starters: Isles, Suniula, Test, Hawkins, Halalilo, Hume, Hawley
Tries: Ombachi (2), Amonde