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Tokyo Plate semis heartbreak for Kenya

INJERA-WALESNAIROBI, Kenya, March 23 – Australia crafted the latest heartbreak for Kenya in the HSBC World Series with a 36-0 mauling that saw Paul Treu’s side crash out of the Plate semi-finals of the Tokyo 7s Sunday at the Prince Chichibu Stadium.

Kenya who collected 10 points in the sixth round in Japan to take their tally to 57, were relegated to the Plate after suffering a 43-19 humiliation at the hands of Fiji in the Main Cup quarter-finals to book a date with Australia who were edged out by series leaders New Zealand in another last eight clash.

Treu is yet to match his predecessor Englishman Mike Friday and New Zealand strength and conditioning coach Chris Brown’s performance after failing to go past the Cup quarters for the fifth time since he was appointed last November.

Many expressed hopes including Kenya Rugby Union chairman Mwangi Muthee, after the former Blitzbokke tactician had set a Cup semi final target for Tokyo 7s, but instead the team meekly surrendered.

In the Cup quarters, Kenya started the match on a brighter note with Billy Odhiambo finishing off a quick-fire move after several loose balls. Biko Adema converted to see them open the score sheet.

Fiji continued to pile pressure on the Kenyan defence and their hard work paid off two minutes later with Pio Tuwai breaking through to touch down but Emosi Mulevoro, missed the kick.

Fiji found their rhythm with Kenya being punished for their defencive mistakes through Donasio Ratubuli who powered under the post to open the gap as Mulevoro did not miss his conversion this time round.

Kenyan all-time leading try scorer Collins Injera, levelled for his side when he charged down his kick forward to rack up his 178th career try but Adema missed the conversion to see both sided locked 12-12 at the breather.

Before Kenya could settle in the last half, Fiji welcomed them with a fashion quick-fire straight from the off to take the lead through Samisoni Viriviri who slide under the post but Mulevoro wasted the kick.

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Treu charges responded swiftly through skipper Andrew Amonde who finished off a move that started in their own goal line to score his second try of the tournament with Adena making no mistake this time round to convert.

Little did they know this was their last try as Fiji declared battle attacking the Kenyan back and it did not take long before Viriviri utilized fine passes from his team-mates to score his seventh score of the weekend.

Treu introduced new comer Maxwell Theuri and Oscar Ayodi in the dying minutes but his efforts were fruitless as debutant Vatemo Ravouvou rounded off a great move to pierce through the gap to touch down as Mulevoro’s kick went through the post.

Two more tries were on the way when Stefano Cakau and Leo Naikasau secured the victory with Ravouvou converting one to send Kenya to the Plate semi-finals with a 43-19 route.

In the Plate semis, Kenya could not bounce back and to make it worse for the first time in the tournament they were bundled out without  scoring a single try despite having seasoned players.

Nick Malouf showed some gas to open the scores with Cameron Clark converting for a 7-0 lead. Moments later on, Greg Jeloudev dived over for his seventh try of the weekend in the corner after a swift move out wide but went ahead to miss his own kick as they led 12-0 at half-time.

Kenya resumed second-half charged with an attack minded with Oscar Ouma, trying to break through but could not manage to squeeze the solid back row as Clark grabbed the ball to run through the line and pass it to Afa Pakalani who ran through the center to scored his first try that Clark converted to extend the lead.

Treu brought in Horace Otieno and Daniel Sikuta, who were  not effective as they failed to stop debutant Alex Gibbon who stepped in to punish Kenya for their poor tackle to give Australia fourth try.

Sam Myers easily touched down twice to seal the victory after Sikuta and Patrice Agunda were sent to the sin bin to give their opponents chance to nail it off with a 36-0 to meet USA in the finals.

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Kenya will now look to pick up and better their performance for next weekend’s seventh round at Hong Kong 7s.

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