Kenya men national 15s rugby Under-20 team coach Paul Odera believes his charges learnt a lot during the recently concluded World Rugby U20 Trophy in Brazil.
The Africans champions kicked off their campaign on a disappointing note losing 11-63 to Uruguay on July 9.
They recovered to stun hosts and debutants Brazil 26-24 in the second Pool 'A' match on July 13 before putting up a good fight in the 34-38 loss to 2014 and 2017 champions Japan on July 17.
Odera’s charges completed the Brazil tour in sixth place after falling 13-52 to North America's representatives Canada 52-13 in the fifth-place playoff.
“I would say we performed beyond expectations. To finish sixth in our first time here in over 10 years is an excellent achievement. There’s a lot to do to perform better next year,” assessed Odera.
“Better preparation, playing teams ranked higher than us and training camps are crucial if we are to go far,” he said before adding, “Our scrum and lineout need work. We also need to reduce our errors as we were punished for every mistake.”
Hibrahim Ayoo and Geoffrey Okwach scored a try apiece for Kenya in the playoff while vice captain Dominic Coulson contributed a penalty.
Odera’s charges were within four points at 8-12 after half an hour of play, but managed only one try in the second half in the 58th minute through Okwach who had been sin-binned just two minutes earlier.
In a post-match interview, Odera said, “We could not last in the physical contest and got worn down by a big, strong and heavy side who were well-organised.”
Meanwhile, Pool 'A' winners Japan rallied from 21-14 down at halftime to bag the World Trophy title by beating Pool 'B' leaders Portugal 35-34 and book a slot in the top-tier competition, World Rugby Under-20 Championship.
Tonga finished third after seeing off 2008 champions Uruguay 29-27 in the bronze medal match. Brazil dismissed Hong Kong 32-29 to finish seventh.
Ayoo won the World Rugby U20s Keep Rugby Clean award.