Team USA found a glimpse of redemption, beating Kenya 26-21 in the 13th-place semifinal of the 2023 HSBC Los Angeles Sevens on Sunday.
The Eagles finished third in Pool A on Saturday after losing to Samoa in the opener and New Zealand in the second game after rounding it out with a win over Chile. The New Zealand loss eliminated them from medal contention, slotting them into the ninth-place quarterfinal against Spain on the first game of the day Sunday, which resulted in a 14-12 loss.
That result pit them against Kenya in the 13th-place semifinal, with the winner getting to play for 13th place for the most points possible at the bottom of the Los Angeles tournament ladder.
It wasn’t a great start for the U.S. as Brunson Madugu got Kenya on the board in the first minute as the Simbas took a 14-5 lead at halftime. Malacchi Esdale scored the lone try for the U.S. in the opening seven minutes.
But the U.S. turned it around in impressive fashion in the second seven minutes. Esdale took a pass from Marcus Tupuola on the left flank and cut inside to make it 14-12 thanks to Steve Tomasin’s two-point conversion.
Then Tomasin found the try zone himself off more magic from Tupuola, this time on the right-hand side. Tomasin’s most impressive play came just a minute later, when he kicked a low ball that bounced from just beyond the 22-meter line towards the try zone, which Faitala Talapusi scooped in and took home to make it 26-14.
Kenya added another try right down the middle through Kevin Wekesa, but it was too little too late.
USA will now play Japan for 13th place at 2:58 p.m. PT. Esdale, who had two tries against Kenya, is questionable to play after limping out with a leg injury in the second half.