Japan land final blow to Kenya 7s Olympics medal hopes
Japan delivered the mortal blow to Kenya 7s hopes of medalling at the Rio 2016 Olympics when the Samurai pierced through them 31-7 in their final Pool C encounter to leave Shujaa without victory in the preliminary round.
Benjamin Ayimba’s men will pick the crumbs of a disappointing debut at the biggest sporting carnival on earth on Thursday when the two-time Rugby World Cup semi finalists simply failed to turn up for the tournament they had targeted to make history as the first Kenyan team outfit to land at the medal table.
Japan picked off where Great Britain who vanquished Shujaa 31-7 and New Zealand who added a 28-5 reverse in their second clash left off on Tuesday, the 24-hour break in play not enough for Kenya to regroup.
Pool C leaders Japan, started the match off with a try from Hano Kazushi which was successfully converted by Goya Kazuhiro for 7-0 but record World Series try scorer and vice-captain, Collins Injera soon went over as Kenya 7s quickly levelled the tie 7-7 for his second Olympics five-pointer.
Unfortunately, the man known as ‘Papa Locole’ was the only Shujaa player to show up for the competition and that is how good it got for Kenya who were playing in an all black strip, perhaps a harbinger of the doomed campaign.
When hooter blew for half time, Japan were in possession and bearing in mind that fortune favours the brave the Samurai tore the length of the field and Lomano Lemeki side- stepped Injera with ease for their second try.
Japan’s were on a roll and Kazuhito Goya showed his individual skills and broke off the back of the scrum and powered over for their third five-pointer after the breather.
With confidence and creativity oozing out of the Samurai, they then gained the line-out to set a driving maul.
Veteran Humphrey Kayange was then given a yellow card for pulling it down which saw Japan being awarded penalty try creaming up the play for the victors who defied all convention in a pool they had been seeded last.
Lemeki notched his fourth try of the competition to kill off the Kenyans and advance against all odds, to the quarterfinals where it almost felt they had robbed Shujaa their Olympics fairy tale in the process.
The defeat is sure to signal the end of the careers of a number of veterans in the side who were seeking a swansong in Rio led by the stalwart Kayange as Kenya 7s prepare to qualify for the next Olympics that will be hosted by their conquerors here.
The quarter final draw paired Africa’s remaining representatives, Blitzbokke of South Africa against the powerful Australia while Japan landed a clash against France.
Unbeaten Britain will take on Los Pumas of Argentina with the battle of the round witnessing the back-to-back World Series champions, Fiji take on the out of sorts New Zealand All Blacks who squeezed through as one of the best placed third finishers.
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