Shujaa in Challenge Trophy lining at Las Vegas 7s


Kenya 7s celebrate winning the Challenge Trophy at the Las Vegas 7s on Monday, March 6, 2016. ...
Kenya 7s celebrate winning the Challenge Trophy at the Las Vegas 7s on Monday, March 6, 2016. PHOTO/Courtesy/World Sevens

National team Shujaa bagged eight points at the fifth stop of the 2016/17 HSBC World Sevens Series in Las Vegas after beating Samoa 21-14 in the Challenge Trophy final on Monday morning.

Shujaa missed the Main Cup quarterfinal after beating Russia, drawing Argentina and losing to New Zealand in the group stages in the first two days.

Relegated to the bowl quarterfinal, Shujaa had better fortunes on the final day.

Shujaa edged Chile 21- 19 and advanced to the penultimate stage where a physical French outfit lay in wait.

In a scrappy, nervy affair, Kenya held on to beat Les Bleus Sevens 14 – 7 in the semi-final missing numerous try scoring opportunities to achieve a more flattering score line as they advanced to their second challenge trophy final of the season with Bush Mwale, Collins Injera and Sammy Oliech cancelling out Alexandre Lagarde’s opening try.

Shujaa faced Gordon Tietjens’ Samoa in the final after the pacific islanders made light work of Scotland 24 – 0 in the other semi-final.

The current World Rugby Sevens leading try scorer Injera notched up his tally to 242 when he scythed through the Samoan defence from an attacking scrum.

Injera touched down between the uprights enabling Oliech to add the extras comfortably.

The Samoans struggled to settle into the game and an infringement meters from their try line provided Kenya with an attacking platform for Captain Andrew Amonde to charge through for Shujaa’s second try.

Oliech made it two out of two with the conversion as Shujaa held a 14-point cushion at the breather.

In the second half, Samoa resumed with renewed vigour and halved the deficit when Tila Mealoi was in the right place at the right time after team mate Joe Perez who was tackled by Oliech popped the ball to his team mate to score.

Mealoi converted his own try and a comeback was in the offing as he was once again on the score-sheet with Samoa’s second try and his 40th in his sevens career two minutes later.

Mealoi converted it to restore parity as Shujaa rued their lapse in concentration in the early stages of the second half.

Amonde who had asserted his physicality in the breakdown against the Samoans displayed brute strength when it mattered shaking off two tackles to break the deadlock and score the winning try in the dying moments of the game.

Oliech successfully converted as Shujaa held on to lift their second challenge trophy after a similar win in New Zealand in January.

“It was bittersweet. We didn’t perform too well here but it’s good to get something. Big thanks to the fans, we know we have more and we can build on that for Vancouver, “ Amonde reacted after the victory that had little impact on Shujaa’s 11th placed position in the Series standings.

Shujaa will face the Las Vegas gold medal champions South Africa in the next round in Vancouver, Canada after the Blitzboks won their fourth main cup title following up on their successes in Dubai, Wellington and Sydney.

South Africa edged Fiji 19 – 12 in an entertaining final to place them in good standing to secure the overall series title they last won in the 2008/2009 season with former coach Paul Treu.

Innocent Simiyu’s charges are also grouped with England and Chile at the Vancouver sevens this weekend.

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Story By Bernard Ndong
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