Kenya clinched silver for the second consecutive circuit in the HSBC Sevens World series after slumping to a 24-12 defeat to Fiji at the finals in Hong Kong.
The Shujaa were raring to go after building a head of steam in Vancouver where they clinched silver, but disarrangement cost the Kenyans gold in Southeastern China.
Kenya breezed past Canada and Spain to finish top of Pool B, despite narrowly losing 28-26 to Australia in the final match of the group.
Jeff Oluoch’s try at the tail end of the encounter saw Kenya beat Scotland 19-17 in the Cup quarters, before Innocent Simiyu’s charges booked their place in the final after a rampant 21-12 victory over favorites New Zealand in the semis.
Save for the defeat to the Aussies, Kenya proved imperious in Hong Kong, and victory against Fiji would suffice, seeing as they had lost to the Pacific islanders at the previous final in Canada.
The East Africans could however not stave off competition from Fijians, after a sustained lapse in concentration cost them the match. Josua Vakurunabili powered his way to the try line to hand Fiji the lead, but Collins Injera’s yellow card for an indiscretion, closely followed by Willy Ambaka’s booking for tackling a man without the ball, had Kenya down to five men and chasing the game.
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The shrewd, experienced Fiji side used the numbers gain to full effect, as tries by Eroni Sau and Amenoni Nasilasila had Kenya trailing 17-0 at the break.
Billy Odhiambo orchestrated Shujaa’s potential comeback with a five pointer soon after the interval, but Oscar Ouma’s try only proved a much needed consolation, as Vatemo Ravouvou’s finish had already put the result beyond reach for Simiyu’s boys, who had little time left to change the outcome of the match.
Fiji have avowedly made the Cathay Pacific their fortress, as the win propelled them to their fourth consecutive title in Hong Kong, and their third crown of the season having previously triumphed in New Zealand and Canada.
South Africa- who lead the overall HSBC World Series with 126 points-claimed bronze having beaten New Zealand 29-7, a result that saw second placed Fiji trim the gap in the overall standings to three points.
Shujaa amassed 19 points in Hong Kong to take their tally to 83 points, as they leapfrogged England to move seventh on the table.
‘Namcos’ Simiyu is confident that his side will attain the season target of reaching a century of points, although Shujaa will face a stern test in Singapore where they have been placed in Pool B alongside England, France and Las Vegas winners USA.
Nonetheless, attention now shifts to the Commonwealth games in Australia where Kenya will be joined by HSBC Sevens compatriots South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Fiji, and hosts Australia at the Gold Coast Sevens.
The Kenya men’s national rugby team has been placed in Pool C where they will test their mettle against New Zealand, Canada and Zambia.
Shujaa have made it apparent that they will be going for gold, despite being pitted against 4-time Commonwealth champions New Zealand. Victory over the All Blacks in Hong Kong nonetheless has Kenya in high spirits, given their recent rich vein of form.
Kenya 7s team for the Gold Coast Sevens – Commonwealth games
Andrew Amonde (KCB), Collins Injera (Stanbic Mwamba), Daniel Sikuta (Kabras Sugar), Nelson Oyoo (Top Fry Nakuru), Eden Agero (SportPesa Quins), Samuel Kang’ethe (Menengai Oilers), Billy Odhiambo (Stanbic Mwamba), Jeffery Oluoch (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), Osar Ayodi (Menengai Cream Homeboyz), William Ambaka (SportPesa Quins), Samuel Oliech (Resolution Impala Saracens) and Oscar Ouma (Top Fry Nakuru).
Prediction for Kenya at the Gold Coast Sevens
Kenya missed the title by a whisker over the last two circuits in the HSBC Sevens World Series. Simiyu isn’t selling his side short and as such, has his sights firmly set on gold at the Gold Coast.
The Kenya Sevens are however placed at +2500 on Sportsbet.com.au to emerge victorious, behind Australia, England, New Zealand, Fiji and heavyweights South Africa, which is the highest rated team at $2.30.
Teams often rise up to the occasion during such intermittent global events, but I would still fancy Shujaa to register a podium finish at the Commonwealth games.
Kenya 7s fixtures
Kenya vs. Zambia Saturday, April 14, 2018 – 8:27 p.m Local time, Robina Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia
Kenya vs. New Zealand Saturday, April 14, 2018 – 2:17p.m Local time, Robina Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia
Kenya vs. Canada Saturday, April 14, 2018 – 10:17am Local time, Robina Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia
Kenya 7s recent results
Kenya 21-12 New Zealand (April 8, 2018)
Kenya 12-14 New Zealand (December 2, 2017)
Kenya 33-10 Canada (April 6, 2018)
Kenya 19-14 Canada (February 3, 2018)