NAIROBI, April 4 – Head coach, Felix Ochieng’s hopes of reaching a second Main Cup quarter-final this season were dashed after his charges lost their second Pool C match to Canada 26-10 in the opening day of the seventh leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday.
Shujaa will now face Australia in Sunday’s Bowl quarter-final as they seek to improve from their Hong Kong outing where they collected three points courtesy of their Shield win.
Playing with black armband in solidarity of family and friends who lost their loved ones in Thursday’s Garisa University College attack that left 147 students dead, Kenya began on a high, beating former head coach Mike Friday’s USA 27-5 in their opening fixture.
Shujaa lost their second match to series leaders South Africa after going down 26-0 despite a promising start.
Veteran Humphrey Kayange grounded his first try of the season since making a comeback from a seven-month injury layoff, to inspire Ochieng earn a sweet avenge against his former boss Friday.
Despite playing with heavy hearts, Ochieng charges finally ended three match winless run against USA this season after touching down five tries.
Youngster Bush Mwale opened the scoring in the second minute when he found space to dart two USA defenders and burst to the try line from the inside for his 10th career try as Lavin Asego missed the conversion.
Injera doubled the lead from a build up started by Mwale who found Billy Odhiambo with the latter setting the vice captain for his 195th career try as Asego’s conversion once again went wide to see Kenya lead 10-0.
Skipper Andrew Amonde gifted USA the consolation after the KCB RFC man dropped the ball in his try line to enable Madison Hughes pull one back from unconverted try.
Shujaa suffered a blow on the hooter after Asego limped off from a knock as Amonde made up when he set Kayange for the third, when the lanky center picked the captain’s kick to score his 145th career try as Kenya led 15-5 at the break.
Kenya slowed the game on resumption, locking the Americans from their break down, with Injera completing his brace to attain a remarkable 1002 points, 24 above country’s leading points scorer Asego, before substitute Leonard Mugaisi sealed the win with his unconverted try.
Against Blitzboke, they once again found themselves on the receiving end as South Africa proved a hard nut to crack when Justin Geduld scored an early try to leave Shujaa trailing 7-0 at the breather.
Chris Dry touched down South Africa’s eighth try of the weekend on resumption as Rosco Specman completed the rout on the hooter.
The result left Kenya with no option but to win their last group match against Canada but that remained to be a dream as the latter beat Shujaa for a second successive time.
The Canadian started brighter and did well to exchange passes in the flanks, before Ciaran Hearn broke the deadlock from individual effort before grounding a brace seconds later from Kayange’s blander.
Mugaisi pulled one back for Shujaa when he scored under the sticks for his 10th career try as Amonde was sent the sin bin on the hooter for a neck tackle to see Canada lead 14-15 at the interval.
Justin Douglas extended Canada’s lead after the break when he picked the loose ball and sprit untouched to the try line. Conor Trainor powered over for the fourth try but as on injury time, Kenya grabbed what could be much more than just a consolation through the excellent Mugaisi.
It was the tight pool with Canada, USA and Kenya all locked on five points but Canada advanced through with a superior points difference (-14) over Kenya (-20) and USA (-23) end up bottom.