NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 2 – Kenya Sevens launched their 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series on a losing note following their 24-14 defeat at the hands of France in the opening leg in Dubai Sevens on Friday morning.
Kenya under new head coach Innocent Simiyu had a solid start to hold France in the first half where they led 14-5 with Nelson Oyoo opening the scores before Willy Ambaka grounded the second converted try.
Simiyu fielded a strong line-up that was led by captain Andrew Amonde, Ambaka, Frank Wanyama, Leonard Mugaisi, Billy Odhiambo, Augustine Lugonzo and Oyoo who was the only player who was not on the Rio Olympics squad.
Mugaisi started off Kenya superbly with a lovely kick-off that was won by Ambaka before feeding Amonde who set-up Oyoo for the opening try underneath the post for Lugonzo to convert.
Kenya held possession to pin down France on their area and the pressure paid as Lugonzo set up Ambaka with a short pass to go under the post for the second converted try that saw Shujaa lead 14-0.
The Frenchmen managed to touch down two quick tries to reduce the deficit to four points after Kenya lost concentration at the back to concede the unconverted tries at the left corner.
Things got worse for Kenya in the second half as errors cost them to concede three tries and see France make a comeback to win the game that cemented their dominance over Shujaa.
In the second match, Kenya bounced back to beat Japan 17-7 and revive their chances of qualifying to the Main Cup quarters.
With Australia having qualified after thrashing France 28-0, Shujaa will have to beat the Australians when the two sides meet at 5:22pm Kenyan time in the last match of Group D.
Frank Wanyama touched down first in the must-win game for the Shujaa Sevens but Leon Ellison levelled it up with his first-ever sevens try but second-half scores from Dan Sikuta and William Ambaka give Kenya their first win of the series this season.