By: BS Mulavi
Wednesday, April 04, 2012. Category: SportsThe Kenya National Sevens team got off to a losing start in the Hong Kong leg of the International Rugby Board Sevens circuit, after a hard-fought 19-7 loss to Samoa. Despite a tough battle, Kenya once again were on the receiving end of some big hits from the winners of the Las Vegas leg of the circuit in February. From the start, Kenya conceded an early try through Ken Pisi to start trailing. Kenya’s hopes of keeping at pace with the Pacific Islanders were ignited by Oscar Ouma, who scored Kenya’s only try of the game which was converted by Nato Simiyu to level the game after a tense two minutes of play. Kenya looked set to stay put until the half-time whistle. But their biggest blow came when captain Collins Injera was shown the yellow card by referee Mathew Brien, forcing Kenya to play with six men. Even though Kenya tried to hold forte without their inspirational captain, they eventually conceded a late try from Paul Perez, who stretched the Samoans’ lead to 12-7 with veteran Uale Mai missing the conversion just a few seconds before the blow of the final buzzer. With only five points separating the teams, Kenya had to work hard and attacked more aggressively and did not give away the ball easily. The first two minutes of the second half looked fairly promising, but with the addition of Samoan substitute Lolo Lui, the Samoans were able to step on the gas and stretch their lead by an extra try from Alatasi Tupou. Lolo Lui converted to stretch the lead to 19-7. Kenya wrung in the changes by introducing Felix Ayange and Dennis Ombachi. However, nothing was going to steal the win from the determined Samoans. The loss leaves Kenya with a mountain to climb as they look to qualify for the Main Cup quarterfinals. Head coach, Mitch Ocholla, and his troops remain with two group games against England and Argentina to determine their fate. However, with only three pools contending for the Main Cup quarter-finals in the new Hong Kong tournament format, Kenya still stand a chance of qualifying for the main cup quarter-finals if they can beat one of the two teams by a convincing score and they emerge third in the pool. Of the three pools, all winners and second runners-up automatically qualify for the Main cup quarter-finals. This is alongside two best placed second runners-up from the pools. Kenya has proved in the past that they can beat England and Argentina and the country is sure to rally behind them on Saturday morning.