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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Vancouver 7s: Errors Cost Eagles In Semis Loss

Photo: David Barpal
Too many uncharacteristic errors came back to cost the Eagles as they fell to Kenya 24-19 in the Cup semi-finals of the Vancouver 7s. The Eagles had been in the lead for most of the match but were never able to find their groove as they let Kenya steal it at the end. The loss will be extremely disappointing for the team, especially knowing that they could have had back to back finals appearances.

Once again the U.S. failed to win possession early but did a great job to defensively pin Kenya deep in their own end. Eventually that defensive pressure would win the ball back. With the ball in hand the Eagles found Perry Baker who did another Houdini act to evade the defense and score. Then off the restart Danny Barrett would bat the ball back to Baker who ran in nearly untouched for double the lead at 14-0.

That's when Kenya were able to make their way back into it thanks to a series of errors from the Americans. Most of those errors came as the U.S. failed to connect on a final pass that would have launched a player clear. First Nelson Oyoo was able to slip through a couple of tackles and then he would score again in the corner. That second try might have been even bigger if Carlin Isles hadn't done a great job tracking back to force them into the corner and a missed conversion.

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In the second half each team made a number of substitutions, including Baker who came out for a breather. Early on the Eagles playing too loose with the ball nearly cost them if Matai Leuta hadn't tracked back on defense. Eventually the Eagles were able to make things happen as a great pass from Folau Niua found Carlin Isles in space for the try. The conversion was good and the Eagles led 19-12.

Unfortunately it all wouldn't last. Kenya hit right back after the try to level it up and then with no time left they were able to turn the ball over. Baker went for the intercept that would have won the game but he missed allowing Kenya to run in for the winning score.

Again, the U.S. have to be disappointed with the result but they'll still have the opportunity to pick up big points as they play South Africa in the third place match at 8:52 p.m. et/5:52 p.m. pt. 

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