BY STEVE AYOO
Kenya Sevens failed to hold on to a half time lead and crumbled after the break, losing 31-17 to France in their final group match at the London 7s as they dropped to the now all too familiar Challenge Trophy territory.
Shujaa, who lost to Fiji but beat Samoa, entertained the French, knowing that victory will see them progress to their maiden Cup quarters appearance in this near catastrophic 2018-19 World Rugby Sevens season.
A sturdy first half performance at Twickenham Stadium had Kenya narrowly leading 17-14 thanks to a brace of tries from Bush Mwale after captain Jacob Ojee had put the first five points on the board.
The French howeverrregrouped and ensured it was a two-point game before the interval as they replied through two converted tries from Paulin Riva and skipper Jean Pascal Barraque.
Kenya were starved of possession after the break and conceded three more touchdowns with Remi Siega chalking over twice and Paul Bonnefond adding the other.
The defeat ended Kenya’s hopes of progressing into the increasingly elusive Cup quarters despite an improved show in London.
Day 1 results
Kenya, who will face Scotland in the Challenge quarters, got their Day 1 campaign with a gritty 24-17 defeat to Series title challengers Fiji, before edging Samoa 21-20.
With France also losing to Fiji (31-10) and beating Samoa (22-14), the winner of the Kenya-France game was guaranteed a last 8 spot.
France got it.
Luckily for Kenya, their relegation rivals Japan and Wales, also performed poorly in their respective pools and dropped to the second tier competition where they have been drawn to face each other.
The three sides are locked in an intercontinental scrap to avoid the drop with Ireland waiting on the wings, having confirmed their core team status in the 2019-20 season.
Kenya have to keep on bettering results posted by Japan and Wales for them to retain their position among the elite.