NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 7- Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu has attributed the team’s poor performance in the Sidney leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series to ball handling errors and lapse in concentration.
Shujaa picked a paltry two points from Australia, after finishing in 14th with only two wins in the fourth round of the series. The team beat Japan 17-12 in their final group match to drop to the Challenge Trophy.
However, they shockingly lost 22-0 to Russia in the quarter finals to drop to the 13/14 play off where they beat Scotland 19-4 in the semi-finals, but fell short in the final losing 10-5 to Canada.
“There are those critical moments we let down our guard and lost. We had a lot of errors, an average of five in attack, and 4-6 in defense which are spoiling our game and we were caught out in those areas playing some critical games,” Simiyu said after the team returned home from the Sidney and Wellington tour on Tuesday morning.
“They are basic handling and defensive errors especially on the breakdown. We are talking of 10 errors per game and it is hard to win with such errors in your team. They are painful and costing us games. If you look at England and South Africa matches, we were three minutes away from beating those teams but we lost in the final seconds because of concentration lapses.”
The team finds itself 13 points short of the number of points they achieved at the same stage last season, having amassed 27 so far while they had managed 40 after four rounds in 2015/2016. Simiyu had hoped to pick at least 10 points per leg before the season started.
Skipper Andrew Amonde though saying the players are playing well has also conceded the numerous errors are costing the team, but hopes they can work on them in the next three weeks before the next leg in Las Vegas, USA.
“There are games we play well, others we come in and misfire. The biggest challenge is concentration; the players are not well concentrated on the field. Most of the games we have lost because of small concentration mistakes. The other thing is that we have new players coming in and we are still trying to gel,” the captain underscored.
Shujaa’s next assignment in Vegas will see them take on New Zealand, Argentina and Russia and both Amonde as well as Simiyu see an opportunity to compete in the Main Cup.
“It is a very interesting and tough pool. At the series there is no easy pool. Right now we have to go back, concentrate on correcting the errors and put ourselves in a good position to compete for the Main Cup. It is possible,” Simiyu offered.
Simiyu has also hinted he will make changes to the squad heading to the USA as they seek to recover, currently being 13 points short of their target after four rounds. He says he will bring in a blend of youth and experience into the squad, adding a right balance will see the team do well.
The coach has also praised Willy Ambaka and Billy ‘The Kid’ Odhiambo for their individual performances over the last four legs.
Odhiambo remained top of the performance tracker after the Sidney leg having accumulated a total of 174 points, 40 of which were picked in Sidney with 15 tackles, three breaks, five offloads and 17 carries.
Ambaka also makes the top five on the performance tracker with 148 points and is also third on the top try scorers’ list after four rounds with 17 behind South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla (32) and England speedstar Dan Norton (23).