NAIROBI, Kenya, March 29 – Watching Kenya labour its way through Adelaide and Hong Kong makes one think that fatigue may be creeping into the team.
With 52 points in the bag so far and with two legs remaining in the season, Kenya is on course to record its best performance since the series began in 1999 but it may have come at a cost if one considers the teams’s performance in the past fortnight.
Benjamin Ayimba’s charges failed to make it into the main cup quarter finals in Australia but made that up by finishing best runners up in Asia a week later.
Despite the improved performance over the weekend, one common thread is the lethargy the players showed and their ability to adapt to situations in front of them.
Add poor defence and a high turnover rate, it was a forgettable tour in terms of the frequency of errors especially in a sport where mistakes are punished.
Kenya’s highly physically approach worked against them, especially against marquee sides like New Zealand and South Africa who relish playing at close quarters.
Humphrey Kayange and company came off second best in the collisions losing the ball in contact. Even if they managed to keep the ball it came back slowly giving the opposing team to realign their defence pattern.
Innocent Simiyu for example conceded three turnovers in the Adelaide bowl final one of which was returned for a try.
Simiyu’s conversion into a successful forward seems to be longer than usual. The Impala centre time and time again looked for the tight when going wide looked to be the wise move.
The recall of Dennis Mwanja and Victor Sudi though good on paper did not deliver the required results.
Mwanja who was expected to fill the void left by Victor Oduor was instead largely used off the bench and struggled to adapt to the pace of sevens after playing mostly fifteens since his return from injury.
In Adelaide, Sudi looked like he was still introducing himself to his teammates as Kenya’s moves broke down whenever he became the point of attack.
Despite the improved performance in Hong Kong, the Kenya Harlequins bruiser was guilty of missed tackles most notably in the main cup quarter final against New Zealand where the Kiwi captain DJ Forbes left him for dead.
Kayange, Lavin Asego and Collins Injera again delivered some memorable performances while Horace Otieno once again proved his worth as a replacement once gain with a cracking try against the Springboks in the plate semi.
The bigger picture for Ayimba this year is the Commonwealth Games in October which he has set out to win.
The task now is to get the selection balance right during the remaining IRB legs in London and Edinburgh.