The USA men's 7s team led 12-0 at halftime of the Hong Kong 7s Bowl Final, but couldn't keep the lead, losing 14-12 to Kenya Sunday.
Kenya in fact almost opened up the scoring, working the right touchline, but the Eagles did just enough to put the Kenyans into touch. Then some slick ball movement set free Rocco Mauer. The late replacement for Maka Unufe showed why he is under contract with the Olympic program, leaving everyone in his wake to score in the corner.
The corner meant a tough conversion for Shalom Suniula, and he missed, making it 5-0 USA.
Mauer almost seemed in for another, but he wisely danced his way out of contact, found Mike Palefau, who fed SUniula, and the captain sent a lovely wide pass to Colin Hawley for the score. Conversion good, and it was 12-0.
But in the second half it was all Kenya. A USA penalty allowed the Kenyans to move the ball wide, and then cut back to set up the great Humphrey Kayange cutting up the middle. 12-7 barely 90 seconds into the second period.
Then midway through the second half the USA was caught clustering around a ruck and that was all Willy Ambaka Ndayara needed. He dummied to his support and skirted around the outside with only prop Nu'u Punimata to beat. No problem, and it was 14-12.
The Eagles had time and opportunity, and pressured Kenya at the end.
With time essentially up, the Eagles managed somehow to turn the ball over in a ruck. They got a penalty, ran a move with Shalom Suniula and Andrew Durutalo, and then on the 22 almost in front of the posts, they got another penalty. The option was there to drop-kick a penalty, which would have won the game. The USA opted not to do that, tapped quickly.
The man whose job it was to slow things down and assess the options was Suniula, but he was on the ground after having a Kenyan player fall on him. Folau Niua took the tap, and with time up Tai Enosa tried to sidestep his way through the Kenya defense just a few meters from the line. He was caught and the ball jarred loose. Kenya kicked to touch, and that was it.
It was an exciting ame, and the USA have much to feel positive about, but they also know they had a solid lead, and couldn't hold it.
Tries: Kayange, Ndayara
Tries: Mauer, Halwey