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KENYA MAINTAIN IRB RANKINGS: Shujaa remain eighth on Sevens rugby log

RUGBY By Rodgers Eshitemi | March 8th 2016
2016 USA Sevens Rugby Tournament - Day 2 Tim Mikkelson of New Zealand is tackled in their game against Kenya during day two of the Men's 2016 USA Sevens Rugby Tournament match at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 5, 2016. / AFP / MARK RALSTON

Kenya's Sevens rugby team has maintained eighth place in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series overall standings.

Despite failing to win a trophy at the just concluded Las Vegas Sevens, the fifth round of the series, Kenya did not drop in the rankings.

Shujaa bagged 10 points after winning three group matches, before losing in two knock-out matches (against USA and Japan). The 19-14 loss to Japan on Sunday night in the Plate semifinal condemned Shujaa to a trophy-less fifth round.

Benjamin Ayimba’s boys now have 52 points from five legs, 39 points behind defending champions and current series leader Fiji, who made a remarkable comeback to beat Australia 21-15 in the Main Cup final.

South Africa, who finished third in Vegas, are third with 86 points.

Prior to their Main Cup quarter final and Plate semis defeats to USA (14-26) and Japan, Shujaa defied all odds to thrash New Zealand 22-0 in their Group A table-topper clash; their first win over the All Blacks in three years.

Before the New Zealand match, Kenya defeated Russia (24-21) and Portugal (38-0) on day one of the tournament. In the Plate semis, Willy Ambaka put Kenya ahead with a successfully converted try before Kazuhiro Goya drew level for Japan. Shujaa were later reduced to six men at the break after Dennis Ombachi was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle.

On resumption, Yoshitaka Tokunaga set up Ryuta Yusui for the Asian champions’ second unconverted try. However, Humphrey Kayange made it 12-12 with Biko Adema’s successful conversion handing Shujaa a 14-12 lead.

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But it was Shohei Toyoshima, who broke Kenyans' hearts with a brilliant finish after good work in the build-up from Lomano Lemeki and Lote Tuqiri, which sent Japan to the final, where they unfortunately lost to New Zealand.

Focus now shifts to the Vancouver Sevens, Canada this weekend, where Kenya is in Group A alongside reigning Series champions Fiji, Samoa and Portugal.

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