Rugby Rugby

Kenya down Canada to start season on a high

Samuel Oliech breaks through for Kenya on day two of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17 in Las Vegas on 4 March, 2017. Photo: Martin Seras Lima

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 1- Kenya Sevens began their 2017/2018 HSBC Sevens World Series season with a thump, shaking off any gremlins of the opening match to come from a try down and bounce back with a 29-15 win over Canada at the first leg in Dubai 7s on Friday morning.

Shujaa ran in five tries with Collins Injera striking a brace while Sammy Oliech, Dennis Ombachi and skipper Oscar Ayodi had one each.

Two of the Kenyan tries were converted while the Canadians touched down thrice with none of them converted.

A last minute lapse in concentration occasioned by changes in the team almost saw Shujaa drop the lead with Tom Kay striking twice after coming off the bench, but good for them they had already done the damage early to preserve the lead.

Kenya had won possession from a Canada kick-off, but could not take maximum advantage with the Canadians winning the ball back after Shujaa were penalized for holding on to the ball for too long.

Nathan Hirayama broke the deadlock after picking out space in the Kenyan defense from five meters out after John Moonlight had pushed in, drawing three Kenyan players with him.

But Shujaa responded almost immediately with Sammy Oliech taking advantage of a mistake at the back by Canada, landing Kenya’s first try of the season with a little kick and chase inside the opposition 22. His conversion was successful to see Kenya go up 7-5.

Shujaa seemed to have gotten their systems right after the early scare and they began to play with more fluidity and purpose in attack.

Injera extended Kenya’s lead to 12-5, dotting down his 245th career try after splitting through the defense from an Oliech offload.

Ayodi got his name on the scoresheet with Oliech converting as Shujaa went to the break 19-5 up.

Dan Sikuta showed good strength to pull away from the Canadians after some patient build up from the Kenyans and an in-rushing Ayodi picked up the offload and skipped into the try box.

Shujaa added two more tries after the break to take the game away from the Canadians.

Dennis Ombachi then stretched Kenya’s lead to 24-5 after showing superb strength to push away his marker on the left before trotting away with his giant leaps and dotting down.

Injera then completed his brace with a brilliant try, a little dummy with a fooling pass taking him away from his first marker and skipping away from his second with sheer strength and speed.

Shujaa seemed to go to sleep in the final minutes of the game allowing Pat Kay to dot down a quick brace after exposing spaces in the Kenyan backline, but it could not do much damage with the clock already winding down.

Kenya’s next match will be against series defending champions South Africa at 1:36pm.