KENYANS CLAWED: Shujaa's quarter-final hopes hang in the balance

Beaudein Waaka (R) of New Zealand pokes Samuel Oliech of Kenya in the eyes on day one of the USA Sevens Rugby tournament, part of the World Rugby Sevens Series, March 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. / AFP PHOTO / David BECKER

Kenya Sevens national team’s hopes of qualifying for the Las Vegas Sevens Main Cup quarter-finals hang in balance.

The Kenyans made a stuttering start in the fifth leg of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series in North America yesterday morning.

Shujaa fell to New Zealand (24-7) and then tied with Argentina (14-14) in their first two Group C opening matches at the Sam Boyd Stadium.

Day one’s performance left the Singapore champions in a complicated situation as they must now beat Russia in this morning’s final group encounter (1.12am Kenyan time) and hope the other result (New Zealand-Argentina) goes their way for them to qualify for the Main Cup quarters.

Russia lost 43-0 and 19-5 to Argentina and the All Blacks, respectively. In the opening match, Shujaa threw away a 7-5 first half lead to a rejuvenated Kiwis to revenge last year’s 22-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture at the same venue.

Sherwin Stowers put New Zealand ahead through an unconverted try before Kenya veteran Collins Injera raced over for his 239th career series try, a world record, with Eden Agero adding the extras for a 7-5 half-time lead.

But after the break, a spirited New Zealand side were able to turn on the screws to score three tries through Tim Mikkelson, Dylan Collier and Sione Molia.

“We are still finding our feet. People might not know it is a smaller field. The way we have played in the last two tournaments doesn’t really suit this field. We got it right in the second half against Kenya and in parts of the Russia game,” New Zealand coach Scott Waldrom said after day one’s action.

In the second match, Nakuru’s Nelson Oyoo broke the deadlock, racing clear to touch down after being set up by Agero who converted for a 7-0 lead but the Argentines landed two converted tries through 19- year,old Mathias Oscadzuk to take a 14-7 lead into the breather.

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