Shujaa miss Olympic knockouts, to play Japan in 9th place semifinal

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021 11:08 |
Shujaa forward Vincent Onyala in action against Chile at the Emirates Invitational 7s stadium in Dubai on Friday April 9. Photo/ PD/ ALEX NJUE

The Kenya national rugby sevens team has missed their Olympics dream by a try after Shujaa suffered third consecutive pool match defeat to drop to ninth place semifinal against Japan at 1am today while Ireland tackles Korea in the second semifinal.

Kenya’s Olympic dream to play first knockouts was challenged by the Irish men right from kick off when Hugo Lennox scored unconverted try in the first minute and two minutes later furthered their scores through Harry Mcnulty’s try and conversion to lead 12-0 at half time.

Shujaa stepped in the Tokyo stadium with a superior -14 points compared to both Ireland (-21) and Canada (-38) and needed to uphold the points difference or better the points by either a draw or any sort of a win to challenge Canada to the final best loser slot after Australia confidently grabbed the first with a positive 25 points.

After Kenya failed to score their second try against the Irish men to draw or to win depending on the outcome of the conversion to follow, the result was devastating as Kenya finished their pool campaign with a -19 points difference which was no match to Canada's -14 points difference.

Canadians celebrated the try by Vincent Onyala instead for it had huge impact on the best loser's fight where Ireland was automatically bumped out from the race to the the quarters courtesy of also winning their last pool match by 36-5 against Japan for the right to rumble New Zealand shortly after Shujaa meets Japan at 11.

A win is a three pointer earning while a stalemate and a loss is two and one point’s respectively thus Kenya finished with three points obehind third placed Ireland with five points in a group the Blitboks topped pool C with 12 points and will play Argentina next while USA is second with seven points and will play Great Britain.

Shujaa is expected to play the hosts next at 11am today where a win could see Shujaa return to meet Ireland at 3.30am on Wednesday morning in a ninth place playoff while the losers from the semis will meet in the 11th place playoff at 3am.

Following the close affair between Kenya and Ireland, Canada was confirmed the second best loser to join the knockouts after Australia grabbed the first slot following a 12-14 loss to New Zealand in pool A fixture.

New Zealand and Argentina grabbed direct qualifications from pool A while Rio 2016 cup finalists Fiji and Great Britain made a direct qualification from pool B where Canada managed to squeeze themselves into the quarterfinals following a 36-2 win over Japan.  

The match vs Ireland  

The loss to the Irish men was due to a bad first half where Ireland took up the lessons from the Blitzboks against Kenya in day one to successfully grab a 12-0 half time lead in a half Shujaa did not attack having been forced to camp in their half while the Irish men played attacking rugby for an extra three minutes in the second half.

Shujaa’s first attack build up came in the fourth minute of the second half after substitute halfback Daniel Taabu speeded up play to encroach deep in their territory playing wing to wing to force their defenders to commit errors that were punished by a try by Vincent Onyala who fed on a pass by Nelson Oyoo while Daniel Taabu took a quick conversion.

On restart, Ireland was under pressure to score more points to better their qualification chances where they needed to score more points as their 12-7 lead translated to a -14 points difference which was inferior compared to Canada in an event Argentina grabbed the first slot.

Ireland was the only pool opponent speedster Collins Injera did not score a try as Kenya finished the pool having scored a total of four tries and three conversions off three matches. Other try scorers are Jeff Oluoch (Vs USA) and Vincent Onyala (Vs Ireland).

The next match will not be a walk in the path for Shujaa as the hosting nation was an defending champion Fiji will remember in the tournament having come close to upsetting them in the opener courtesy of a 24-19 nervy win. Japan however lost 34-0 to last season's runners up- Great Britain in their next match before losing 36-12 to Canada.

Fiji would return to beat Canada 28-14 before exposing Great Britain with a 33-7 win to top pool B. Pool A was topped by New Zealand while coming in second place is Australia while third placed Argentina enjoyed a 56-0 win over debutants Korea to make the cut despite suffering a huge 36-14 loss to New Zealand.

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