National team Shujaa won bronze at the Edmonton Sevens in Canada early Sunday morning after beating Canada 33-14 in the play off to finish off with 16 points. This was another emphatic performance for the Kenyan boys having picked 18 points in the Vancouver leg of the series last weekend where they reached the final.
Head coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu was elated with the performance of the team and believes it is a good foundation heading into the new year with the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby Sevens World Cup coming up.
“These past two weeks have been tough and exciting. We started well in Vancouver and only unlucky in our execution against South Africa on two occasions. We went back to the drawing board and worked on how we could handle pressure on kick off, in defensive spaces as well as in tackles,” said the coach.
He adds; “Next for us is to go back and train better, work harder and come up with more strategies which are simpler and can be executed well under pressure and hopefully we can build on our current performance.”
Kenya dipped to the play-off after losing 33-7 to South Africa in the semi-final, This was the third consecutive loss for Shujaa against the Blitzbokke who had beaten them in the group phase and the final.
In their third meeting, Shujaa had trailed 19-0 at halftime. Siviwe Soyizwapi had dotted down a brace of tries, both converted by Ronald Brown after Muller du Plessis had given the side an early 5-0 lead.
In the second half, Shujaa came off the breather trying to get their act together and they pulled a try back when Jeff Oluoch crossed over. Levy Amunga sliced the posts for a 7-19 scoreline.
However, the hope of a bounce back was shortlived as the South Africans took crisp control of the game, Du Plessis adding his second of the day and Brown adding another, while also contributing for the conversions.
But, the Kenyan lads bounced back in the play-off to floor down the home side.
Against the Canadians, Kenya was 14-0 up after Nelson Oyoo and Alvin Otieno crossed over, both converted by Levy Amunga. The Canadians pulled one back via a try dotted down by Jake Thiel with Brennig Prevost adding the twos.
The home side made for some nervous moments in the second half when they levelled the scores, Alex Russel crossing over the whitewash and Prevost adding the twos.
However, the relentless Kenyans got back onto the lead when Willy Ambaka crossed over, Amunga converting for a 21-14 lead.
The on-form ‘Buffa’ Otieno then added his second of the day before Billy Odhiambo, who was commemorating his 50th World Rugby Sevens Series tournament went over for Kenya’s last try of the game, going on to convert it himself for a healthy 33-14 victory.
Kenya had made it through to the Main Cup Quarters in Edmonton after finishing second in their group following victories over Chile and Spain but lost to the USA.
Against Chile, Kenya was up 19-0 at halftime off three tries by Oyoo and a brace from Willy Ambaka. Daniel Taabu and Mark Kwemoi added two conversions.
A Felipe Brangier try for Chile had the scores at 19-5 which spurred Kenya to race to the win with further tries by Kwemoi, Alvin Marube, and Timothy Mmasi. Amunga and Kwemoi added the conversions.
Against Spain, Kenya 7s went up 19-5 at halftime off tries Oyoo, Odhiambo, and Kwemoi who completed his brace with the only try in the second half. Levy Amunga booted in three of the four tries.
Alberto Carmona responded to Oyoo’s opening try with an unconverted try as Andres Arnau cancelled out Kwemoi’s third try. Juan Martinez added the conversion.
In the final pool game, Kenya went down 19-14 to USA after trailing 12-0 at halftime.
Tries by Malacchi Esdale converted by Naima Fuala’au, and Kevon Williams had the Americans flying.
Oyoo and Odhiambo’s tries plus add-ons from Levy Amunga had Kenya up 14-12 in the second half but a late Martin Iosefo try converted by Jerome Nale saw the USA coast to the win.
In the quarters, Kenya hit Germany 24-17. A brace of tries by Oluoch and Otieno, plus two conversions by Amunga, had Kenya up 19-0 at halftime. A Carlos Soteras Merz try, converted by Fabian Heimpel, saw Germany reduce the gap to 19-7.
Otieno completed his brace thereafter with an unconverted try before Germany had a late rally with unconverted tries by Tim Lichtenberg and Phil Szczesny.