NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – Kenya collected five points in the opening leg of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series season after falling 19-21 to USA in the Challenge Trophy (Bowl) semi-final at the Dubai 7s on Saturday.
Shujaa managed to win only two out of five matches after also losing to France and Australia in the preliminary round.
Entering the semi-final from a 22-14 victory over Canada in the Bowl quarters, the Innocent Simiyu side needed to beat USA, a team coached by former Kenya 7s head coach Mike Friday to keep their hopes of bagging eight points alive.
“We played the games very well but it is unfortunate we lost some by close margins. We want to see what we can do in terms of improving the technical side of things so that we can be able to secure games early,” Simiyu said after the loss to USA.
“We will look at that this week going to Cape Town and hopefully we can be able to gel and build a winning team.”
USA scored the opening try when Perry Baker was cut-off down the outside but managed to pick out Danny Barrett for their first before Baker offloaded inside to Madison Hughes who converts his own try.
Kenya responded when William Ambaka led by example to shake off the challenge of Folau Niua to score his fourth try in tournament. There was more joy for Kenya, with Nelson Oyoo this time grounding an outstanding try.
Returning for the second half, a second converted try of the match from Madison Hughes, who was the leading scorer in the 2015-16 sevens series ensured the Americans take the lead and increase the tempo of the game.
Ambaka grabbed a brace but despite that, USA came through against Kenya to seasl the win and head to the final where they will meet Samoa.
Against Canada, Kenya were 22-14 winners after making a strong start to this encounter.
Cyrpian Kuto went over for the try as they led 5-0. Augustine Lugonzo would soon be played in by Kuto to land a second try as Kenya go 10-0 up, a lead they held to half time.
Justin Douglas’ converted effort after the restart brought Canada to within three points of Kenya but Innocent Simiyu’s charges pulled further away, Nelson Oyoo burning his opponents for speed to score under the posts with Brian Tanga adding the extra two points.
Canada would lose possession deep in Kenyan territory, Leonard Mugaisi picking the loose ball, racing clear to score at the corner before Kartsen Leitner’s late converted effort brought closed off the scoring at 22-14.