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Team USA opened its title defense with a 26-10 defeat of Kenya Friday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev. The Eagles never trailed, and posterboy Carlin Isles secured a brace in the opening half to secure the lead.
Kenya spent the first minute in attack. The Eagles won the first kickoff, but an errant pass from Folau Niua gave Kenya possession in the American end. After a darting run just inside Madison Hughes, Kenya was held up right on the try line.
Hughes pressured on the scrum, forcing a knock-on and a turnover. A 95-meter, multi-phase team try was the response by the USA. Carlin Isles dotted it down, touching the ball twice on the play. Danny Barrett engaged in a car crash on the other sideline, and Martin Iosefo further broke down the defense with his feet.
Again, Kenya got to within inches of a try, and again the Eagle defense stiffened at just the right time. Folau Niua pinched the ball in the breakdown, with his toes in goal, and Isles sliced through two Kenyans, powering through outstretched fingers for the score.
Kenya finally came good right on halftime. An obstruction penalty on Isles put the visitors on the front foot. Kenya’s conversion was good, as was one of the USA’s, giving the home team a 12-7 halftime lead.
The Eagles snagged momentum back at the start of the second half. Tomasin took it in from point-blank range a phase after a set piece play. Kenya’s indiscipline helped put the USA in the attacking end. The conversion attempt was successful, putting the Eagles 14 points clear.
The set piece delivered another try two minutes later. This time it was a lineout from about 22 meters out, and Hughes carried it in on the first phase. Then he sunk the touchline extras, extending the lead to three converted tries with under two minutes to play.
Marcus Tupuola then subbed on for Isles, making his international debut. Kevon Williams came on for Folau Niua, and Maceo Brown spelled Iosefo, too. Kenya cut through the reserve defense on the first touch, getting a try back in the final minute.