Bold Kenya stutter in Vancouver opener

Kenya's Collins Injera carries the ball during the USA Sevens Rugby tournament at Sam Boyd ...
(FILE)Kenya's Collins Injera carries the ball during the USA Sevens Rugby tournament at Sam Boyd Stadium on March 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken/Getty Images/AFP Isaac Brekken / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

A much improved Kenya lost 28 – 14 to England in their Group A opener at the Vancouver Sevens as indiscipline bungled their chances of edging their English opponents in the World Sevens series in almost four seasons.

After clinching the Challenge trophy and eight points at the Las Vegas sevens in the United States five days ago, Kenya continued their North American tour in Canada at the British Columbia Place Stadium with a tough pool A opener against England who lie third in the world series standings.

The English dominated possession right from the kick off, exchanging passes for about three minutes as the Kenyans stood firm, absorbing the relentless waves of attacks.

Kenya finally won possession from the turnover after England were penalized for failing to release the ball in the tackle and Shujaa struck first after a well timed pass by Eden Agero to William Ambaka who scythed through the English defense to score between the uprights for a 7 – 0 advantage; Agero adding the extra 2 points with a conversion.

Kenya almost added more points but William Ambaka who showed a clean pair of heels failed to beat the last defender and was tackled from the try line by England’s sweeper Tom Mitchell.

The English drew level on the counter as Phil Burgess ran the length of the pitch with Bush Mwale struggling to keep up and the two sides were drawn level 7 – 7 at the interval.

Kenya Sevens Head Coach Innocent Simiyu rung in the changes with Frank Wanyama and Sammy Oliech adding fresh legs into the Shujaa set up.

The impact was instantaneous as Oliech opted to use the short side of a Kenyan ruck to dash over 50 meters fending off the cross covering defender to restore Kenya’s lead in the second half.  Eden Agero made it 14 – 7 with the conversion from a difficult angle.

Soon after, England’s Dan Billy was certain of five points but Nelson Oyoo managed to tackle him meters from the try line.

Oyoo’s tackle was all for naught as England were awarded a penalty try which amounts to 7 points after William Ambaka inadvertently interfered with the ball and the two sides were once again drawn level.

Ambaka was subsequently sent off for 3 minutes as Kenya struggled to defend with a man down. England sensed blood after Collins Injera was penalized for a high tackle and they capitalized on the numerical advantage to snatch the lead as Dan Norton who is chasing Injera in the list of all time try scorers scored England’s 3rd try for a 21 – 14 lead after it was successfully converted.

Dan Bibby scored England’s fourth try soon after when James Rodwell did most of the work and it seemed to take the wind off Kenya’s sails as the resultant conversion consolidated England’s lead to seal the 28 – 14.

Kenya will face the Las Vegas sevens champions South Africa at 1.56am early Sunday morning before concluding their group games against Chile at 5.14am.

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Story By Bernard Ndong
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