NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Nathan Hirayama’s penalty at the death saw Kenya Sevens start their Hong Kong Sevens campaign on the wrong footing, losing 17-14 to Canada in a Pool B match.
Shujaa had twice come from behind with Nelson Oyoo touching down and Sammy Oliech converted to draw 14-14 level, but after the restart the Canadians won possession and made it count, capitalizing on a mistake by Collins Injera.
It wasn’t a good day in office for the Kenyans with Luke McCloskey and Harry Jones touching down, both tries converted by Hirayama.
McCloskey opened the Canadians’ account after showing a clean pair of heels to his markers on the right following some good and patient build up. Lucas Hammond won the ball off a set-piece to spread it out to Harry Jones who in turn offloaded to McCloskey.
Shujaa should have drawn level few minutes later but Eden Agero dropped the ball a few meters from the touchline after the Kenyans had built up patiently, looking for the opportune time and space to make the possession count.
However, Innocent Simiyu’s charges who were missing three key players in Willy Ambaka, Leonard Mugaisi and Dan Sikuta drew level.
Dennis Ombachi making a return to the team after close to a year showed his worth with a try under the posts stepping in and out with some quick feet to shake off his markers with Sammy Oliech adding in the extras for a 7-7 score.
A slight lapse in concentration by the Kenyans from restart saw Canada go back into the lead, this time Jones touching down.
Hirayama picked the ball after Kenya was penalized for a kick off error to start play and noticed space between the defense, kicking the ball upfront with Jones racing for it and landing the try.
Oyoo raised some hopes for the Kenyans in the final minute when he showed some quick feet on the right from an Ombachi offload after winning the restart, shaking off his markers and going for glory under the posts.
Kenya hoped to win possession from the kick off after the hooter had gone but it was Canada who won the ball.
They progressed few meters to the try line and were rewarded when Injera tried to dispossess them off the ball from an offside position. With the conversion posts in sight, Hirayama went for the easier option, choosing to go for the penalty and he converted for a 17-14 lead.