National Sevens Women's team Kenya Lionesses hopes of becoming a core side in the 2023 World Rugby Sevens Series Circuit went up in smoke on Sunday evening after losing their semifinal match against Japan in the ongoing Challenger Series taking place in Santiago, Chile.
Kenya who have been impressive since the Challenger Series kicked off to days ago narrowly went down to Japan 22-15 in a close semifinal match at Estadio Santa Laura.
Dennis Mwanja's girls were seeking to continue with their fairytale run by progressing to the main cup final in the tournament being used as the qualifier to the 2023 campaign after a perfect start that saw them secure four straight wins in their four games in the competition.
Wakaba Hara scored two tries in the first half while Miko Suda contributed one as speedster Janet Okello netted a brilliant try in the first half that Keya trailed 17-5.
In the final half, Laurine Otieno reduced the margin to 17-10 despite being one-player less after Japan-based Okello was sent to the sin-bin for two minutes.
Okello would return to the field and scorched the Japanese with her speed from her own half to bring her side to within two points reach at 17-15.
However, Kenya's comeback hopes went up in smokes when Hara grounded her third try of the match to bundle out the East Africans with the last kick of the match.
The Lionesses needed to win the Challenger Series in order to clinch the only ticket on offer for the 2022-2023 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series slated for December 2, 2022 to May 14, 2023.
Kenya will now face China in the bronze medal match.
Earlier, Keny had beaten Argentina 24-7 in the quarter-final.
In the pool matches, Lionesses posed a 17-15 victory over former core team China in their opening Group D matches before seeing off South Africa and Chile.