Last updated 7 months ago | By Clement Wekulo
Feeney’s charges undone by poor second half as they lose to the Blitzboks in Cup quarter-finals.
It was a case of so near yet so far for the Kenya rugby Sevens team Shujaa as they let go of a 5-0 lead to bow out of the Cape Town Sevens with a 17-5 loss to South Africa in the Main Cup quarter-finals yesterday.
As a result, Kenya, who won two matches and drew one, finished sixth at the second leg of the 2019-20 World Sevens Series, collecting 12 points to bring their season tally to 16 ahead of the third and fourth rounds slated for January and February next year in Hamilton, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia.
While they might have failed to progress to the last four in the Mother City, Paul Feeney’s charges will draw inspiration from the massive improvement they have made as they collected a paltry four points at this stage last season.
Over the three days, Shujaa scored 11 tries and conceded a similar number with burly Homeboyz forward Alvin Otieno stealing the show as he dotted down tries in all of Kenya’s matches, including a second-half winner in their second pool D fixture with Australia on Saturday.
Otieno, who made his Shujaa debut in 2016, is now the team’s top scorer this season with a six tries having scored twice in the season opener in Dubai.
In the contest that sealed Kenya’s fate yesterday, Shujaa played second fiddle to the hosts at the breakdown and despite the East Africans taking a third-minute lead through Otieno’s five-pointer, they were held back by a sluggish showing in the second half just as was the case when Kenya and South Africa met in Dubai, a match the Blitzboks also came from behind to emerge 17-12 winners.
“We have definitely made improvements in our defense and attack structures as well as kick offs. We have been giving all players opportunities and everyone has had a start. Five players who didn’t start in our first match against Samoa started against Australia. I am happy with where we are because our work rate has been much better,” said Feeney.
With Kenya holding a 5-0 lead in the early exchanges, Ruhan Nel drew South Africa level on the stroke of half-time before he completed his brace midway through the second half after he was put through from a line-out.