Kenya drop to Challenge Trophy in London Sevens

Saturday May 25 2019

Kenya's Vincent Onyala (right) evades a tackled from Samoa's Laaloi Leilua as he goes to ground to score a try during their rugby union sevens pool match on the first day of the London 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series event at Twickenham Stadium in west London on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |

Kenya's Vincent Onyala (right) evades a tackled from Samoa's Laaloi Leilua as he goes to ground to score a try during their rugby union sevens pool match on the first day of the London 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series event at Twickenham Stadium in west London on May 25, 2019. PHOTO | BEN STANSALL |  AFP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya Sevens once again dropped to Challenge Trophy after they squandered a first half lead before losing to France 31-17 in their last Pool “B” duel at London Sevens Saturday.

Kenya will face Scotland at 12.36pm on Sunday in the quarterfinal of the Challenge trophy.

Bush Mwale and skipper Jacob Ojee landed a try each to give Kenya a 12-0 lead, with Johnstone Olindi converting one.

However, Kenya’s lead was short-lived when Pauline Riva and Jean Pascal Barraque ltouched down before Barraque converted for France to storm into a 14-12 lead in the exciting match.

Mwale would complete his double as Kenya reclaimed the lead 17-14 at the drinks. Then Remi Siega went for a brace of tries with Paul Bonnefond crossing the line once to halt Kenya’s charge for their first main Cup quarterfinal appearance this season.

Kenya Sevens had kept their hopes alive when they stunned Samoa 21-20 moment after they had fought bravely only to go down to defending champions Fiji 24-17 after a 12-12 first half stalemate.

A hat-trick tries from Vincent Onyala that Johnstone Olindi converted all saw Kenya, who led 14-10 at the break, sink Samoa.

Mwale landed a brace but was not enough to rescue the improved Kenya Sevens from going down to the Fijians for the fifth time this season.

Aminiasi Tuimaba weaved through Kenya defence to put Fiji on the board as Livai Ikanikoda converted to lead 7-0.

France, who had earlier beaten Samoa 22-14, would proceed to the Cup quarterfinals despite having lost 31-10 to Fiji. It was a clean run for the Fijians who outclassed Samoa 26-17 in their last Pool match.

Kenya are battling relegation alongside Japan and Wales who also dropped to Challenge Trophy at the London Sevens. Interestingly, Japan and Wales face-off in the Challenge Trophy quarterfinals.

Kenyans on social media rallied behind the team encouraging them to dig deep to avoid relegation.

Former Kenya Sevens players skipper Sidney Ashioya and Biko Adema called on the team to stay focused on Sunday and win the Challenge Trophy.
“All I have seen is blood sweat and tears... We pick it up tomorrow #Kenya7s.” - Ashioya on Facebook.

“Heads up @KenyaSevens, some good work out there today. Focus now shifts to day two! Well done for the win over Samoa. Great display of power, speed and character to take it!" - Biko on Twitter.

“Dear @KenyaSevens, you have a whole nation behind you. Don't bottle this. Keep calm and win. We can't be relegated. If we die we die.” - Stephen Musyoka on Twitter.

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