Shujaa draw with champions Australia in Dubai Sevens opener

Kenya's Billy Odhiambo attacks against the Argentina during Hong Kong Sevens. [World Rugby]

World Rugby Sevens Series defending champions Australia rallied from behind twice to deny Kenya Sevens their first win of the 2022-2023 season after holding Shujaa to a 19-19 draw in the Dubai Sevens opener played at The Sevens Stadium on Friday.

After a winless run during the season-opening Hong Kong Sevens last month, Kenya needed a bright start and despite going 14-7 up at the break, they could not edge out the high-flying Aussies who also won the Hong Kong leg.

Herman Humwa gave Kenya an early 7-0 lead after touching down inside the opening minute that Anthony Omondi converted before Billy Odhiambo added a second try converted by Omondi for a 14-0 surprise lead.

The Aussies would however respond with a Josh Turner try converted by Maurice Longbottom as they trailed 14-7 at the breather.

In the final half, the series defending champions restored parity through Henry Paterson whose try was converted by Dietrich Roache for a 14-14 tie with four minutes left to play.

Willy Ambaka who was vocal last week during Shujaa’s financial crisis outburst on social media gave Kenya the lead once again after touching down in the corner but the conversion would sail wide.

The missed conversion would come to haunt Shujaa after Australia leveled the scores once again through Longbottom in the final minutes.

Kenya will now play South Africa in their second match at 2.20 pm. Shujaa are in Group A alongside Australia, South Africa, and Great Britain.

South Africa lost their first match 12-5 to Great Britain who now leads the standings with three points followed by Kenya and Australia with two points each.

Last month, Shujaa had a poor start to the season at the Hong Kong Sevens where they finished last without a win.

Shujaa only managed to squeeze a point from the leg when they lost to New Zealand 43-0 in the Challenge Trophy quarter-finals before shockingly going down to Uruguay 10-7 in the semi-final for 13th place. That is after losing all their group matches.

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