We must break the Cup semi hoodoo, says Simiyu after Vegas tour
Bernard Ndong, reporting from Las Vegas, USA
Head coach Innocent Simiyu has identified two key areas that Shujaa needs to work on ahead of the next round of the World Rugby Sevens Series in Vancouver, Canada. Shujaa are once again grouped with Fiji and France after bagging 10 points at the Las Vegas Sevens in the United States that concluded on Sunday.
Kenya narrowly lost to Australia in sudden death slumping to a gritty 26 – 21 loss at the Sam Boyd Stadium. After losing out on cup contention following their loss to Argentina in the quarters, Shujaa were relegated to the 5th and 6th tier tournament where they faced Australia who have edged them 33 times in their previous 45 encounters.
Standard stunner breaks Kenya
The games turning point came in sudden death where Kenya only needed to consolidate possession after drawing level 21 – 21 in regulation time. Eden Agero’s kick off fell short gifting Australia the chance to snatch the victory with James Stannard powering his way over the try line. Stannard proved to be Kenya’s tormentor-in-chief for the entire game and he put his side ahead after 10 seconds. The former Australia Sevens captain stretched the lead by 2 converting his own try.
The response from Kenya was immediate as Jeffrey Oluoch sliced through the Australian defense like a knife through butter to restore parity scoring between the uprights 2 minutes later. Agero made it 7 all with the resultant conversion. John Porch restored Australia’s lead with a try in the corner flag. Tom Lucas made it a 7-point game with another good kick. The advantage was short lived as Billy Odhiambo put both teams level 14 – 14 for the second time with a converted try.
In the second half, a patient build-up by Australia culminated in their third try by Lachie Anderson. Lucas converted effortlessly for a 21 – 14 advantage. A set-piece move initiated by Collins Injera provided the platform for William Ambaka to score one of the tries of the tournament. The burly winger fended off three Australian players successfully to put Kenya back in the game with their third try. Agero put the two sides level once again with a difficult kick. The scoreline stood at 21 – 21 as the buzzer for the second half rang; the winner would be decided by sudden death.
Kenya, however, bungled the chance to set an attacking platform to snatch the win with a poor kick-off. Australia punished Kenya scoring the winning try after they secured possession.
“We have skill errors we need to fine tune; we need to have more composure in attack. We’ve been in 4 quarterfinals in 5 tournaments, how do we get a step further, ” Innocent Simiyu reflected in an interview with Citizen Digital after their final game of the tournament.
In the 2017/2018 World, rugby sevens series Kenya has reached three successive cup quarterfinals, four in total in the first five rounds.
“As we play we keep on improving, we need some sharpness, we need to remove the unforced errors, we leave two or three tries on the pitch. We are dealing with the best in the world; we need to raise our performance,”Simiyu a lamented on the team’s frustration in failing to proceed past the Cup quarterfinal.
Shujaa travelled to Vancouver, Canada on Monday to conclude their North American tour where they will face the French, Fijians, and Spain.
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