NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5- Having underlined lofty ambitions ahead of the penultimate leg of the 2013/14 HSBC World Series in Scotland, head coach Paul Treu, can reflect back on an outing that bred optimism ahead of the season closing London 7s this weekend.
Despite winning only two games, the second a first victory in five against his former charges South Africa, Kenya 7s bowed out of Scotland at the Plate Finals, losing 26-5 to England, to collect 12 points that moved them up to seventh on the log.
Argentina and Samoa were the sides Kenya rose above with their tally of 72 well short of matching their 99 from last season but in close Pool C defeats to Wales (19-24) and Fiji (17-24) before sealing a Main Cup quarters slot on try difference with a 33-19 win over Argentina, Treu’s side at last showed some promise.
However, their charge to the semis of the main competition were brought to an end by surprise package Canada (5-14) before their Plate semis brought the South African the joy of beating his former side 14-7.
Drained from the tough encounter to the Blitzbokke, Kenya meekly surrendered to England who beat them last season at the only Main Cup final they have contested to date at Wellington.
Ahead of Twickenham, Kenya are yet to hit the heights of last season where they made five Main Cup semis in Gold Coast, Dubai, Wellington, Hong Kong and London but after failing to adopt to his tactics, the team is finally adopting to Treu’s methods that differ in contrast to Mike Friday, his predecessor.
While commentating for TV, Friday accused his successor of constraining the side, “He should allow Kenya to play the flowing fast rugby they are used to,” he said but even acknowledged the team had shown signs of life.
“Was good to see the endeavour and the boys playing with more width in attack..& hopefully @OumaOscar can be available for London?!” the Englishman tweeted.
“I’m disappointed since we had chances against Wales but we failed to utilize and they came from behind to beat us. We are just inconsistent at the moment because sometimes we play well and at other times we tend to give easy tries away.
“Players should learn to get consistent and believe in themselves, with that we will progress in the one tournament left. At the Plate finals we played well against England who are classic but for now we will have to go and finish the season on a high next weekend at London 7s,” Treu said after the dust settled on Scotland 7s.
However, this was an immensely improved side after coming from poor performance in Hong Kong where they bagged three points following their Shield win to repeat Gold Coast result and pick their second highest points this season.
Despite the team missing four key players who are ruled out with injuries led by captain Andrew Amonde, recalled veteran Humphrey Kayange was instrumental in Scotland after partnering well with his younger sibling Collins Injera to score four tries in the tournament and notch his 140th career try.
The riddle of who can replace the Bristol University veteran in the Kenyan ranks remains as his worth to the team appears not to diminish even though he was named as a reserve.
Once again, the team had itself to blame for simple errors like poor handling of the ball which cost them huge leads against Wales and Fiji as they suffered come-from-behind defeats.
Against the islanders, Kenya were close to breaking a 14 year-old jinx but they failed to defend their 17-5 advantage at the break.
Wales clash saw Treu slump to a second successive defeat against a side that eliminated them 10-7 in the group stage at Hong Kong.
Despite the inconsistence performance, Injera is placed third on the season’s top try scorers list with 28 with Fiji’s Samisoni Viriviri leading with 48, 17 ahead of New Zealand’s Tim Mikkelson.
Defending Series champions All Blacks beat Canada 54-7 to lift their fourth Main Cup this season and be on course for a 12th title as they lead the chart with 158 points while South Africa are second with 139, 10 ahead of Fiji who are third.
Kenya will play in a tricky Pool B alongside USA, Samoa and Canada in London.