, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – Brilliant Kenya 7s team defied the odds to lift their first ever Main Cup title after stunning champions Fiji 30-7 in a nail biting Singapore tournament final at the eighth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series on Sunday.
The victory saw Shujaa collect 22 points, their highest ever to climb to seventh position on the overall standings on 85 points behind Argentina who are on 92.
The last time Kenya was in the Cup final was in 2013, when the team was under the tutelage of Englishman Mike Friday after losing narrowly 24-19 to England in Wellington.
Kenya’s record try scorer Collins Injera, who is on 221 tries to sit second on the world top scorers list, hailed his team-mates for the outstanding performance.
“I knew that was our only chance to advance into the final and I’m so happy we did it. We have achieved our target and I want to appreciate and congratulate the boys for a job well done, but I urge them to maintain the consistency,” Injera, who sent Kenya to the final after he struck between the posts a last gasp penalty stated.
Skipper Andrew Amonde made a real nuisance of himself at the breakdown to see Kenya wrestle possession from Fiji to set up Oscar Ayodi who sprinted to the corner for an unconverted try.
Injera doubled the lead when he grounded his 224th career series try which could be his most important as Kenya continued to keep Fiji on the back foot.
Kenya went on the attack from the scrum as Injera turned over again after Apisai Domolailai’s 30-metre pass, one that Nate Ebner would have been proud of, found Osea Kolinisau inside the 22 but the Fijian skipper could not gather it cleanly to be penalised for a knock on.
Shujaa were on a roll with once again producing great work at the breakdown to see them win turnover ball for Samuel Oliech to score Kenya’s fourth try as the conversion went wide.
Fiji hit back at the restart of the second half with Osea Kolinisau leading by example, fielding the ball in the deep before going off on a run up-field.
Vatemo Ravouvou got his hands on the ball and passed to Jerry Tuwai who crossed the line for a try that was worth seven with the conversion.
Nelson Oyoo extended the lead when he put a big hit in defence and then turn it into attack with a special score from deep inside his own half.
Frank Wanyama nailed the final nail on Fiji’s coffin to seal on a famous victory with a try in the corner.
It has taken Kenya 114 tournaments to win the Cup but the wait comes to an end against the world’s best team.
To storm the semi-final, Kenya eliminated a stubborn France 28-7 in an encounter where the Benjamin Ayimba charges grounded four tries with Sammy Oliech converting all.
The Pumas struck first through Fernando Luna on the stroke of half-time when he stepped inside a weak attempted tackle from Augustine Lugonzo.
Shujaa were unable to restore parity in the little time left as they failed to win possession from restart to see Gaston Revol kick the ball into touch with his side seven points up at the breather.
Lugonzo made the amends when they returned to hand Kenya a dream start to the second half when he atoned for his costly error before the break by running in a try from halfway and level scores at 7-7.
The encounter was still a close affair to see both sides tie on 12-12 as Frank Wanyama cancelled out Axel Muller’s try with Collins Injera’s conversion going wide to see the scores remain level with 40 seconds to go.
Unperturbed by his poor conversion attempt, Injera decided to have a shot at goal from 40 metres out after Argentina were penalised in the closing seconds and indeed the Kenya’s record try scorer did not disappoint as he converted to see his team-mates go wild.
South Africa thrashed Argentina 28-0 to clinch the third place play-off.
New Zealand won Plate after beating Samoa 26-21, Scotland lifted Bowl after edging out USA 14-10 while Russia settled for Shield following their 24-7 victory over Wales.
Kenya will now shift attention to the penultimate round in Paris on the weekend of 13-15 May, where the Series will be making a first appearance.