Kenya face Japan in Challenge Trophy

By eric odanga
Mar 03, 2021
  • Chile, an invitational team at the USA Sevens drew 5-5 with South Africa in one of the highlights of the opening day of the three-day tournament. (Courtesy World Rugby)

Kenya saved their best for the last when they rallied from 0-12 down to beat Argentina 24-19 in their last Pool C match.They face Japan in the Challenge Trophy quarter final.

Santiago Gomez Cora, The Argentina coach was gracious in defeat admitting this was a tough formality, “especially when you know you have qualified for the final. We tried to do something different but made many mistakes,” he acknowledged.

He added the team was not focused. “The mentality was not right because they knew they were already first in the group. The aim was to win but their mind was not in it.”

Cora recalled the narrow 26-24 win over the defending champions USA on the opening day. “We must win our next match. New Zealand,” he asserted.

According to the Puma coach, Fiji, England and Australia have played well and could win the tournament. He was impressed by the 5-5 draw by Chile, an invitational team against South Africa.

“It was amazing and shows the growth on the game. Any team can win. You can not relax,” Cora cautioned.

Tough match

On the opening day, Rodrigo Etchart had predicted a tough but a close match against Kenya after they edged out USA. In the interview, Etchart was wary of Kenya’s speed on the outside and hinted they would control the pace by playing a close game.

Argentina who have cut their teeth as one of the most physical sides in the Series followed this script and were rewarded with a try by Santiago Mare in the third minute.

One minute later, Maximo Provezano added the second try which Francisco Ulloa converted for a 12-0 lead. Cyprian Kuto engineered Kenya’s comeback with his first try in the sixth minute and Daniel Taabu converted to narrow the gap 7-12 in Argentina’s favor.

Just before the break, Kuto went over for his second to tie the scores 12-12. Then, Jacob Ojee, Kenya’s captain and Taabu scored two quick tries in the space of one minute. Taabu added the extras for the lead to change hands.

Francisco Ulloa replied with a converted try to level the scores before Kuto broke the deadlock at death.

Day two results

Wales 14 Scotland 19, Fiji 15 Australia 26, Canada 19 Samoa 26, New Zealand 19 Spain 7, Argentina 19 Kenya 24, USA 19 France 10, Japan 19 Chile 7, England 12 South Africa 27. 

Challenge Trophy quarter finals

Spain v Wales, Japan v Kenya, Scotland v Canada, France v Chile.

Cup quarter finals: New Zealand v Fiji, South Africa v USA, Australia v Samoa, Argentina v England.