SECTIONS

BITTERSWEET ENDING: Shujaa mark time at 11th on IRB World Series standings

RUGBYU-SEVENS-KEN-NZ Nelson Oyook of Kenya holds the ball during the USA Sevens tournament Rugby match Kenya vs New Zealand, part of the World Rugby Sevens Series, on March 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. / AFP PHOTO

Kenya Sevens national rugby team remained 11th on the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series table standings despite winning the Challenge Trophy victory in Las Vegas, yesterday morning.

Shujaa beat Samoa 21-14 to claim the Challenge Trophy and take their points tally to 35. They bagged eight points from the fifth leg.

It was the second Challenge Trophy for the Singapore champions this season after winning the same trophy in Wellington.

Kenyan veteran and all-time leading try scorer Collins Injera put Innocent Simiyu’s side ahead with a converted try (242nd career try) before captain Andrew Amonde grounded a brace to hand Shujaa the Cup.

“It was bittersweet. We didn’t perform too well here, but it’s good to get something. Big thanks to the fans, we know we have more and we can build on that ahead of Vancouver leg,” said Amonde after the Challenge Trophy triumph.

On their way to the final, Kenya beat Chile 21-19 in the quarters before seeing off France 14-7 in the semifinals.

South Africa extended their stay at the top of the table after silencing series and Olympic champions Fiji 19-12 at the Sam Boyd Stadium, to win their fourth tournament of the season.

The victory gave the Blitzboks a 24-point buffer at the top of the series standings (107), with Fiji (83) second and England (81) third, following their fifth-place finish in Vegas.

South Africa, who have finished as series runner-up on four consecutive years, are having their best start ever after victories in Dubai, Sydney, Wellington and now, Las Vegas. Their only loss was at home against England in the Cape Town Sevens in December.

“We are happy with how it’s been going in the last few tournaments and the guys are believing in a system and working for each other,” said a delighted South Africa coach Neil Powell, after his side defeated deposed Vegas champions Fiji in the final.

“They are showing a lot of pride in the jersey and have shown they can play for their country. They had a lot of composure in the final and managed to take control back in the second half.”

Meanwhile, a tricky group awaits Kenya in this weekend’s March 11-12 sixth round of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series in Vancouver, Canada.

Kenya have been pooled in Group A alongside continental rivals and series leaders South Africa, third-placed England and Chile.

Commenting on the Vancouver draws, former England Sevens player Rob Vickerman said;

“Pool A is a tasty one with South Africa and England, but also has Kenya, which is a team that can create some upsets. They often seem to play well against England, so that will be a match to look out for.”

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