Rugby

Kenya Sevens medal hopes at Tokyo Olympics extinguished

Maddison Hughes last minute try against USA

Kenya’s hopes of vying for a medal at the Olympic Games were extinguished on Tuesday after losing their third group match against Ireland, going down 12-7 at the Tokyo Stadium. Going into the final match after back to back losses against USA and South Africa, Kenya needed to win to sneak in to the Main Cup quarters as one of the best two third placed teams.

However, Shujaa could not go over the line when they were needed to. They were poor and careless in possession, a huge contrast from the spirited performance they showed against both the USA and South Africans in the opening day of Rugby Sevens action.

“It was a tough pool yes but most of the undoing was us. We didn’t execute well especially on the breakdowns and the kick off reception. The errors really let us down but now we have to take it in and try to bounce back,” coach Innocent Simiyu said after the match.

Skipper Andrew Amonde also accepted that the team let itself down when they had a chance to do well and win.

“We came with our hearts focused on getting to the next level but unfortunately we could not do it. It is hard to take in as a player because we have worked very hard to get here. We will rebuild and hope to be better,” he said.

The same sentiments were shared by Collins Injera; “We failed to execute what we needed to execute. We failed to defend when we were needed to defend. The mental part of it is what escaped us and we let ourselves down.”

Against Ireland, the team just never clicked from the word go. The entire opening half of the game, they were pinned in their own half of the pitch by the Irish.

Hugo Lennox touched down for Ireland’s first try of the game, slicing through the defense after the Irish won the ball in the kick off and forced Kenya to defend deep. The conversion was wide as they took a 5-0 lead.

Harry McNulty then added in Ireland’s second try of the game after they turned over possession, winning the ball off Herman Humwa’s poor pass. The conversion was good as they went through to a 12-0 lead.

In the second half, Shujaa struggled as well. They failed to hold on to possession from the kick off and Ireland pushed them to their own half again. Jeff Oluoch came to Kenya’s rescue with a timely tackle to trip Jordan Conroy as he broke through to the try box, ensuring Kenya remained in striking distance.

They kept pushing and Vincent Onyala doted down Kenya’s first try with 46 seconds to go after Nelson Oyoo forced his way into the Irish 22 to find space for Onyala to run in. The conversion was good and Shujaa needed one other converted try to sneak through.

With around five seconds remaining at the restart, Ireland restarted and they also needed to score to sneak in as they were required to win by a seven point margin. They won possession off the restart, but couldn’t get the ball in play after the hooter had gone.

Shujaa will now take on Japan in the ninth place semi-final while Ireland play Korea.

Canada sneaked in as one of the best placed number threes and will take on New Zealand in the Cup quarters. South Africa who topped Kenya’s pool after beating the USA face off with Argentina, USA play Great Britain while Fiji tackle Australia.

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