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Shujaa off to flying start in Cape Town

RUGBY By Clement Wekulo | December 14th 2019
Tom Sarg (with ball) of Samuari tackled by Andrew Amonde (C) and Geoffrey Okwatch of Shujaa during their Tusker Safari Sevens 2019 tournament match against Samurai at RFUEA Grounds on October 20, 2019. Shujaa won 19-14. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Kenya Rugby Sevens team Shujaa is on course for the Main Cup quarter-finals of the Cape Town Sevens after holding their nerve to beat Samoa 24-19 in a Pool D match yesterday.

With the result, Kenya are top in their pool with three points, same as newcomers Ireland who shocked Australia with a 26-21 victory in another pool D match.

Having reached the semi-finals in the opening leg of the season in Dubai last weekend, Samoa find themselves at the bottom of the pool with one point and they risk missing out on the last eight if they fail to win their second fixture against Ireland.

Against Samoa, Shujaa, who are currently 13th on the standings with 4 points, scored four tries and two conversions while the Pacific islanders made three tries, two of them being converted.

Shujaa opened the scoring in the third minute with Kabras Sugar’s Dan Sikuta crossing the whitewash for a five-pointer but the ensuing conversion attempt was unsuccessful.

Alvin Otieno delivered Kenya’s second try, prompting Samoa to respond as they cut the deficit with a converted try by Joe Perez on the stroke of half-time to ensure Shujaa led 10-7.

Daniel Taabu then got himself on the score sheet with a try which he converted to hand the Kenyans a 17-7 advantage at the break.

Momentum remained with Shujaa in the early exchanges of the first half and their dominance in possession paid off as Billy Odhiambo grounded the ball for his first try of the campaign which Taabu converted to see Shujaa take a comfortable 24-7 lead.

Samoa scored their second try through Belgium Tuatagaloa before they added another five pointer but Kenya held on for the win.

Kenya will be seeking to build on yesterday’s momentum when they face Australia and Ireland in their other matches of the preliminaries today.

While Australia is a familiar opponent to Kenya, the East Africans will be facing Ireland for the first time in the Series after the Irish earned core status this season following the relegation of Japan at the close of the 2018-19 campaign.

Kenya and Australia last clashed at last season’s Paris Sevens where the spoils were shared after a 19-19 draw.

Meanwhile, Shujaa was forced to make a late change to their squad with Kenya Harlequin lose forward Herman Humwa being called up as a replacement for Nondescripts centre Oscar Denis who injured his cheekbone at last weekend’s Dubai Sevens.

Denis is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks and he will return to action during the third and fourth legs of the Series slated for Hamilton, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia early next year.

Elsewhere, Johnny Sexton is in a race to be fit for Ireland’s Six Nations opener against Scotland on 1 February.

The 34-year-old is set to miss the remainder of Leinster’s European Champions Cup Pool One campaign having injured his knee during last weekend’s win over Northampton.

Leinster boss Leo Cullen did not give an exact timescale for Sexton’s return.

“You would love if he was back (for Leinster), but it’s probably more realistic for Ireland,” Cullen said.

“He’s seeing somebody in the UK and he’ll go back there just to get an update in a couple of weeks.

“He’s working hard to try and get himself back as quickly as possible, but he won’t be a million miles away hopefully.”

Ireland play Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in their opening match of the tournament.

A scan on Monday revealed Sexton had suffered a significant medial tear


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