A shorthanded try by Colin Hawley in the first half and a screaming half field burst from Rocco Mauer in the second was enough for the Eagles to put away Kenya 12-7 in the Toyko Sevens Bowl quarterfinals today. The USA will play a very sharp Portugal team next in the Bowl semis. That game kicks off tonight at 10:02 p.m. Mountain/12:02 a.m. Eastern and will be shown live on http://www.universalsports.com.
The last time the two teams met, the Kenyans snuck by the USA 14-12 in the bowl final of the Kong Kong Sevens last weekend, so atonement was certainly on the minds of the Eagles.
In Tokyo, Kenya was clearly targeting some of the bigger American forwards on attack and the result was their only score of the game. Despite a great effort by Zack Test to track down Kenyan captain Colins Injera, the support came and a simple pop off the deck gave Kenya a centered try they converted to go up 7-5 after Hawley's first half score.
Mauer took a hefty shoulder charge by Humphrey Kayange in the first half. Mauer was on a break down the right touchline and space closed up so Mauer dropped it on the boot. In chase, Mauer was first obstructed and then taken out by Kayange. Kenya should have gotten a yellow, but somehow didn't. Karma kicked in though and cynicism in the second half by Kenya provoked the ref into issuing a well overdue yellow. Mauer would have his revenge.
Spreading the ball wide, the Eagles looked to capitalize on the man advantage. Hawley was instrumental in releasing Mauer for the go-ahead try in the second half, putting the pacy American into space with a well-weighted pass allowing him to build up a head of steam by the time he caught it.
The Eagles held on to the lead despite a late onslaught by Kenya. Zack Test crucially turned the Kenyan ball over and eventually Maka Unufe, the youngster who joined the team this week, got on a half break and knocked it on. Thankfully the Eagles were safe as the ref blew the final whistle, preventing Kenya from one last gasp attack.
Tries: Hawley, Mauer