Pit against HSBC World Sevens Series champions, New Zealand and titans Fiji in Pool A, the relatively inexperienced Mitch Ocholla’s side more than held their own against the favourites before beating upstarts Niue 19-7 in their final fixture.
Fielding five World Series debutants, Kenya went down 26-7 to New Zealand in their opener where skipper, Sydney Ashioya, scored their own try to bring the scores level at 5-5 in the first half.
Joe Webber, Tim Mikkelson and D J Phobes added further tries to Frank Arai opener with Tomasi Cama converting three of them to seal the win for the Kiwis.
James Brown got the Fijians off to a flier with only 48 seconds on the clock in Kenya’s second game before debutant Andrew Amonde was sin-bined and Setefano Cakau went over for the second.
Osea Kolinisau converted both efforts to leave Kenya trailing 14-0 at the breather but they got off to a perfect start in the second when Oscar Ouma touched down and Ashioya converted to halve the deficit.
Jimilai Naikadawa and Joeli Lutumailagi in addition to Likai Ikanaikoda’s boot late on purged the hopes of an upset.
In their final pool game, Kenya were stunned by Niue when Matt Faleuka scored the opening try with Kenny Akulu successfully converting for a 7-0 early lead.
But Ouma’s try and Charles Kanyi’s kick brought the side’s level at the break before debutant Michael Agevi and the boot of Kanyi at the start of the second half gave them the lead with scores at 14-7.
Another first timer, William Ambaka pulled the Kenyans further but Christopher Asego missed the conversion to leave the final scores standing at 19-7.
New Zealand topped the group after walloping Fiji 28-5 and Niue 38-0. The newcomers lost by a similar margin to the Fijians.
Kenya’s opponents in the Bowl quarters, Tonga opened with a 24-7 defeat to Wales before losing 19-0 to England and 12-14 to Scotland.