BY BS MULAVI
Michael Agevi of Kenya catches a pass during a US Rugby Sevens tournament match against Canada in Las Vegas, Nevada, yesterday. [PHOTO: AFP]
Kenya’s underbelly was exposed in the first day of the Las Vegas leg of the International Rugby Board HSBC Series as they soaked up six tries in their first two matches.
Kenya lost narrowly to Canada 17-15 before eventually beating Wales 21-17 in a hard-fought match. In both matches, Kenya proved that they do not have any problems scoring when in possession of the ball, but their biggest undoing is the number of points conceded.
Kenya scored six tries on the first day with Dan Sikuta, Humphrey Kayange and Billy Odhiambo scoring in the first game, while Horace Otieno Biko Adema and Collins Injera scored in the second.
In an ideal situation, three tries in a game would have been enough to propel the team to an emphatic victory, but poor defending on the one-on-one challenges, compounded with some miscommunication from the team once again meant their offensive prowess was dwindled.
More perturbing for the team, is the fact that most of Kenya’s tries did not come from second or third phases of play, which would have meant a team-work try, but were rather flashes of individual brilliance from the usual suspects who are able to break a few tackles and bust to the try line.
Also worrying for the side is the number of missed conversions for the team, mainly due to the position of the tries scored and the lack of a proper kicker.
Should Kenya have converted their three tries against Canada, they would have easily won the game, but that was not to be.
Head Coach Paul Treu has got his work cut out if he is to get the best out of the team and to elevate them to the status of other cup winning sides.
For example, winners in the Port Elizabeth leg, South Africa, kept a clean slate on the first day after blanking Wales 43-0 and annihilating Canada 29-0 in their next fixture.
New Zealand, on the other end, hammered Australia 31-7, thereby only conceding one try, before beating Scotland 26-5 and also conceding just a single try. Undoubtedly, these are the favourites to win the Las Vegas leg, if not the overall title in the circuit.
Speaking to IRB.com after the match, Treu said: “We didn’t start too well against Canada with the defeat there. We have a life line now, though we know it will be hard against an impressive South Africa. I know the best defence stands a good chance of winning here in Las Vegas, and so far they’ve not conceded a point.”