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Perry Baker in Tokyo. Martin Seras Lima photo

Mike Friday’s troops bowed out of the Wellington 7s with a 19-12 loss to Kenya in the Challenge Trophy semifinal. The Eagles squandered some scoring chances in the opening half and were outpaced by Kenya in the second.

Kenya drew first blood in the third minute. The Eagles played defense mostly at the start, and when they got possession it was deep in their end. A sketchy pass from Perry Baker to Andrew Durutalo resulted in a knock-on, and Kenya capitalized with a try.

Baker made up for the error in short order, tip toeing down the touch line past the Kenyan defense right after the ensuing restart. The USA’s try was converted, and Kenya’s wasn’t, so the Eagles led 7-5.

The USA had two more scoring opportunities in the first half. Both times they just needed to get the ball to Baker’s hands and failed to do so, clinging to a two-point lead at halftime.

Kenya scored first in the second half, too, though it took four minutes. The ball traded possession in the middle third of the field until a Kenyan beat Barrett around the edge for the go-ahead try. Converted, it put Kenya up 12-7.

The ensuing kickoff bounced near the five-meter line and then out of bounds. The American throw-in was wayward, and Kenya scored in short order, putting the game out of reach at 19-7 with only one restart left. Thanks to two penalties and a yellow card, Madison Hughes would score a meaningless try at the death.