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Shujaa narrowly miss out on Cup Quarters in Vegas

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Shujaa in LA. PHOTO/KRU
  • Shujaa had started off their campaign by beating Australia
  • They narrowly lost out to Japan in their last group match
  • They will face off with Canada in the ninth place match

National rugby sevens team Shujaa have narrowly missed out on a place in the Cup quarters at the Los Angeles Sevens after going down 7-5 to Japan in their last group match. Shujaa needed to beat the Japanese to make the Cup quarters, but the game was decided by a slim two-point margin.

Having won their opener against Australia and lost to Fiji, Shujaa needed to win against Japan to make the last eight, but they came short with just an unconverted try.

They had started the match well, pinning Japan in their own half and they were rewarded with Kevin Wekesa landing in the try box, but the conversion went wide.

Those two missed points would come to haunt the team as Japan responded after the restart, Yoshiyuki Koga converting Koki Yakushiji’s try to seal the win in a match played in slippery conditions following intermittent rainfall.

Shujaa go down to Fiji

Earlier on, Shujaa went down 5-19 to Fiji in their second Pool C match at a rain swept Dignity Health Sports Park. The Fijians scored three tries and two conversions after Alvin Otieno had scored the opener for Shujaa.

Ponepati Loganimasi, Rokoua Rasaku and Iowane Teba scored for Fiji with Waisea Nacuqu and Iowane Teba converting.

The team had been off to a perfect start in the North American tour, beating on-form Australia 12-7 with two tries, one of which was converted.

Stuart Dunbar converted Tim Clements try as the Aussies led 7-0 but Dennis Abukuse responded for Shujaa at the stroke of half time, Tony Omondi converting to see the sides level at the break.

Abukuse picked the ball off a maul on the right, before some strong strides saw him glide over the whitewash to level the scofres at the break.

Seal victory in second half 

The Shujaa new man would then seal the victory with his second try after the interval, a big win for Damian McGrath’s charges who are battling to be among the 12 teams for next season’s World Series.

Team captain Nelson Oyoo, speaking after the match, said, “We worked on keeping possession and maintaining our discipline and it worked for us. We are delighted with the performance but of course there is still much to do.”

Shujaa have had a difficult season and the focus over the next two legs in Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada next weekend, is to ensure they move into the top 12 and avoid relegation.

The team will take on Canada, the home country of coach McGrath, in the ninth place play-off on Sunday night. Canada finished bottom of Pool B, after also winning just one match and losing two.

In the other ninth place trophy quarter final matches, USA plays Spain, France take on Chile and Uruguay play Japan.

In the Cup quarters, Samoa plays Argentina, Fiji face South Africa in a blockbuster tie, Great Britain play New Zealand while Ireland take on Australia.

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