Isles’ brace leads Eagles to victory against Kenya at Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Men’s Eagles Sevens earned their first win of Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens Friday against Kenya, a 26-17 victory that will see Mike Friday’s team finish Pool C in third.

The Eagles previously lost to England and Australia at 7he Sevens, teams ranked in the top five at the end of the 2013-14 World Rugby Sevens World Series. Australia defeated England in the final match of the day to top the pool, while England will join its fellow Commonwealth nation in the Cup Quarterfinals.

Renewed energy seemed to propel the Eagles early against Kenya, resulting in a first-minute try. Carlin Isles and Maka Unufe earned their first starts of the tournament and proved essential in the score. Unufe won the restart and sent the first pass towards the wing the get the play started, and Isles broke two tackles before running half of the pitch to the try zone. Captain Madison Hughes successfully kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.

The Eagles won their own restart and moved the ball from wing to wing, though a penalty ended the attack. In the fourth minute, the Eagles drove into Kenya’s half with smart passing from Unufe to Martin Iosefo. Andrew Durutalo busted through the gainline and came within five meters from adding a second try, but the Eagles moved the ball quickly to Isles in the corner for the five points and 12-0 lead.

Zack Test, who had been kept off of the score sheet in the Eagles’ first two matches, scored his 106th career try in the sixth minute to extend the lead to 19-0. Kenya began to threaten for the first time in the final minute of the half and eventually broke through the well-positioned Eagle defense after the men in white committed too many players to the breakdown. Daniel Sikuta dotted down for his first try of the match to send the teams into the half with a 19-5 Eagles lead.

Head Coach Mike Friday did not have to say much during the halftime team talk; the players knew what needed to be done. Test almost doubled his scoring account on the day in the ninth minute, but instead suffered a knock to his ankle during the tackle.

The Eagles continued to pile on the pressure on both sides of the ball, with Danny Barrett making a number of tackles and intercepting a pass to give his side possession. Perry Baker entered the pitch in the second half but could not get going at full speed, losing the ball just outside the try zone in the 12th minute. Not long thereafter, Unufe took on his opposite number with a step and dotted down over the try line to put a stranglehold on the match.

Leading, 26-5, the Eagles were not in danger of losing the match, but Kenya made it interesting with two late tries from Sikuta (his second of the match) and Dennis Muhanji to bring the final score to 26-17.

The Eagles will be disappointed with a 1-2 record on the day, but there are still standings points to be earned in Dubai. As the third-place team in the pool, the U.S. will play Japan in the Bowl Quarterfinals at 12:52 a.m. ET. Watch the match live on Universal Sports and follow updates on Twitter with @USARugby.

Men's Eagles Sevens | v. Kenya
1. Carlin Isles
2. Pat Blair
3. Danny Barrett
4. Garrett Bender
5. Zack Test
6. Andrew Durutalo
7. Folau Niua
8. Maka Unufe
9. Aladdin Schirmer
10. Madison Hughes (C)
11. Perry Baker
12. Martin Iosefo

Kenya | v. USA
1. Oliver Mangeni Kizito
2. Bush Mwale
3. Patrice Agunda
4. Samson Onsomu
5. Dennis Muhanji
6. Daniel Sikuta
7. Leonard Mugaisi
8. Andrew Amonde (C)
9. Michael Wanjala Wamalwa
10. Tony Onyango Opondo
11. Alex Olaba
12. Oscar Ayodi

Men's Eagles Sevens | 26
Tries: Isles (2), Test, Unufe
Conversions: Hughes (3)

Kenya | 17
Tries: Sikuta (2), Muhanji
Conversions: Opondo

Men's Eagles Sevens | Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens
v Japan - Saturday, Dec. 6 - 12:52 a.m. ET