Kenya Sevens lost to minnows Japan 14-19 in the Las Vegas Sevens Plate semi-finals to collect 10 points in the fifth leg of the World Sevens Series.
The team stayed eighth in the Series but with an improved tally of 52 points, level with seventh-placed England, who only managed one point in Las Vegas.
Fiji beat Australia 21-15 in a cracking final to retain the title. The champions, who finished fourth in Wellington and Sydney, respectively, came from 15-0 at half-time to win the title in style.
Fiji tops the standings with 91 points followed by South Africa with 86 and New Zealand have 82.
Kenya heads for the Vancouver Sevens this weekend where they are in a tough Pool “A’ against Fiji, Samoa and Portugal.
The last time Kenya met Fiji was at Sydney Sevens Cup quarter-finals where the lost 12-28. They have had a good campaign against Portugal, whom they have beaten twice this season.
Strength and conditioning coach Geoffrey Kimani said they are pleased with the performance of the team, which has reached the Cup quarters four times in a row.
WON FOUR MATCHES
“The fact that we are reaching the quarters and collecting much-needed points is motivating for the boys. We have been consistent and have defeated big teams along the way,” he said.
Regarding Kenya’s defeats by USA and Japan, Kimani said there are no longer dark horses in the Series.
Although Kenya and Samoa will meet for the first time this season, they faced off five times last season. Kenya won four on the matches.
The loss to Japan was a major disappointment for Kenya, coming on the heel of three victories, including an impressive 22-0 win over New Zealand. Kenya also lost 14-26 to USA in the Cup quarters.
Willy Ambaka drew first blood for Kenya against Japan, and Biko Adema converted for 7-0 lead. Dennis Ombachi was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock down. The teams went for the break at 7-7 stalemate.
Yoshitaka Tokunaga set up Ryuta Yusui to give Japan a 12-7 led. Kenya then went ahead 14-12 when Adema converted Humphrey Kayange’s try. However, Shohei Toyoshima produced a superb finish for Japan to win.