NAIROBI, May 17 – Kenya closed their disappointing 2014-15 HSBC World Series campaign by turning on the style on Sunday to win the Bowl trophy of the season ending London 7s.
In a season characterised by many lows, vice-captain Collins Injera left the UK tour with the honour of notching his 203rd career try in the elite rugby sevens circuit as Shujaa ran out 26-7 winners over Argentina in the third tier decider.
The win saw Felix Ochieng’s side collect eight points to finish 13th overall on 46 points, a deep drop from last season where they were ranked seventh on 84 points.
As Shujaa lick the wounds, former head coach, Mike Friday guided USA to their first Main Cup title when his charges demolished Australia 45-22 in the gold medal match leaving Kenya wondering what might had been had he stayed put.
Fiji who were already confirmed series winners beat home team England 26-12 in the third and fourth play-off and will be joined as automatic qualifiers for the 2016 Rio Olympics by Plate finalists, New Zealand who hit South Africa 26-14 for that title.
-Injera surpasses 200-
Injera hit the right headlines in a campaign that has drained hope for Kenya when he became the third man in history to score over 200 tries to remain third on the all time top try scorers list behind leader Santiago Gomez from Argentina and England’s Ben Gollings.
“Hopefully I can catch Gomez, especially if I play next year. It’s a great feeling to reach 200 tries. I’d like thank all my teammates for helping me reach this special milestone,” Injera gushed after attaining the mark against Japan.
His elder brother Humphrey Kayange praised the country’s record try scorer, “I think that we didn’t start the tournament well yesterday and we let ourselves down but we picked ourselves up today.
“It was great to see Collins Injera get to 200 tries and we are all massively proud of the work that he has done and contributed to the team.”
Shujaa were relegated to the Bowl competition after hosts England and Scotland ended their dreams of reaching a second Main Cup quarter-final as Kenya only managed to beat Brazil in the Group.
Day Two saw Felix Ochieng charges win three out of three edging out Samoa 38-7 to storm the final and eliminating Japan 24-12 the quarters.
Against Argentina, Kenya grounded four tries in a repeat of Las Vegas Bowl final where they beat the Pumas 24-12.
Argentina set up the tone with Gaston Revol punching through a huge gap in defence to open the scoring, at the other end Odhiambo made hard yards before feeding Injera for the leveller.
Odhiambo quickly got his own only seconds later as Kenya strided ahead on a 14-7 lead at the breather.
Both sides tested each other on resumption and it took patience to build the next score from Oscar Ayodi after many phases.
The score sparked Argentina as they build their own attack but substitute Bush Mwale extended the lead from Ayodi pass that sealed the win even as Rodrigo Etchart scored a consolation.
Against Samoa, Injera, Odhiambo and Ombachi grounded braces each to see Kenya record their biggest victory in the tournament.
Injera opened the scoring seconds after kick-off when Kayange set him up from Biko Adema’s kick-start but poor defence saw Faalemiga Selesele hit back.
Ombachi restored the lead when he powered through to go over for his second try before Odhiambo touched down on the hooter for a 19-7 lead.
Odhiambo completed his brace seconds after restart from a Michael Wanjala pass to kill Samoa’s possible comeback as Injera romped home for another score once again from Kayange pass to send Kenya to the final.
Against Japan, Kayange set the pace in a one way opening half when he picked the ball from the rack few metres from the try-line to go over for his 148th career try.
Ombachi doubled the lead from a solo effort when he made good use of his strength and speed to touch down his fourth of the season from a Odhiambo long pin point pass.
Then cometh the hour; cometh the man as Injera used his brilliant skills to dash between two Japanese defenders to sprint and touch down his 200th try.
He went on to celebrate in style when he picked a pen in his stockings to sign an autograph on the ball before repeating the trick for cameras.
Odhiambo sealed the win with his fourth try of the tournament to see Kenya lead 24-0 at the break.
Japan scored their consolation after the break.