Rugby Rugby

Kenya crash out in Shield semis


NAIROBI, Kenya, November 26- Kenya’s run at the opening HSBC World Sevens Series ended in the shield semi-finals at the Gold Coast Sevens on Saturday.

At the same time, Mitch Ocholla’s side have been drawn in another tricky group for next round in Dubai next weekend with the team facing France, England and fellow Africans Zimbabwe in Pool C of the Dubai Sevens.

Kenya began the second day of Gold Coast Sevens action by narrowly going down 5-7 to Tonga in the Bowl quarterfinals.

Kennedy Moseti was sent to the sin bin in the third minute to leave his team with six players and shortly afterwards, Tonga took advantage of their extra man to score the game’s first try through David Halaifonua with Vaea Poteki kicking in the conversion.

That is how matters stayed until after the break when Kenya hit back through Patrick Aguda but Christopher Asego spurned the chance of drawing the sides level by missing the conversion in a patchy game of few chances.

Ocholla threw in William Ambaka, Charles Kanyi and Horace Otieno to the fray as the match neared the end but the substitutes were not able to inspire the comeback as Tonga held on.

In their shield semi against Japan, Kenya once again found themselves trailing to an early Yoshikazu Fujita try and Katsuyuki Sakai’s successful kick before the latter went over and subsequently the conversion to give his side a 12-0 lead.

A minute later, Ambaka started the fight back when he scored a try and captain Sydney Ashioya converted to leave the scores 12-7 in favour of Japan at the break.

Yet again, Kenya resumed play by scoring their second try through Asego who rose to successfully convert as Kenya edged 14-12 to the lead.

Tony Opondo, Michael Agevi and Andrew Amonde were brought on by Ocholla in a bid to hold on to the advantage but Sakai’s second try late on and his conversion saw the match end 19-14 in favour of Asians as Kenya’s trophy interest in Australia ended.

And in a draw for the Dubai Sevens conducted just before New Zealand and Fiji, the two teams Kenya faced in Pool A of the Gold Coast Sevens played in the Main Cup final, Ocholla’s side landed the two European teams and Zimbabwe.

The fact that the All Blacks and the Fijians contested the Main Cup final was a testament of the baptism of fire the transitional Kenyan team that featured six debutants in Australia faced in their HSBC World Series opener.

On Friday, they registered two losses and a win, going down 26-5 to New Zealand before Fiji beat them 26-7 in displays that were encouraging for the side missing two of their foremost siblings, former captain, Humphrey Kayange and Collins Injera.

Kayange stepped down to pursue further studies at Bristol University while his sibling is likely to feature in the third leg in George South Africa in a fortnight.

Kenya recorded their only victory in Australia when they beat Niue 19-7 in their last Pool A match to seal their place in the Bowl quarters.

Series champions New Zealand were stunned by Fiji who came from 12-7 behind to seal a 26-12 win in the Main Cup final.