Rugby Rugby

It’s fourth place for brave Shujaa

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KENYA-7s-CELEBNAIROBI, Kenya, June 30- Kenya ended their Rugby World Cup Sevens World Cup in fourth place after a 5-29 loss to Fiji in the third place playoff at the Luzhinki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday to emerge the top African nation in the last edition of the event.

Fiji went 12 -0 courtesy of Metusiela Talebula’s brace of tries and a conversion before Willie Ambaka reduced the deficit for Kenya with an unconverted try after being played in by Collins Injera, the scores reading 12-5 at half time.

Further tries in the second half for Fiji through Samisoni Viriviri, Watisoni Votu and Ilai Tinai tries and a sole conversion.

All in all it was a battling performance from Kenya, topping Pool C to reach the cup quarters where they saw off France to set up a meeting against England in the semis where they lost 12-5 in wet conditions.

Meanwhile, New Zealand swept the men and women’s titles at the Rugby World Cup Sevens on Sunday, mixing superior tactical nous with hard-nosed defence and fleet-footed attack.

Gordon Tietjens’ All Blacks team have dominated the IRB World Series Sevens, winning 11 of the 14 men’s titles on offer, but last won the World Cup in 2001.

However, they put England to the sword in the final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, running in five tries to none as they took advantage of the tactically poor English kicking game in wet, muddy conditions.

Tim Mikkelson (2), Gillies Kaka, veteran playmaker Tomasi Cama and replacement Waisake Naholo all crossed the whitewash, Cama bagging three conversions and Kaka a fourth.

England were underpowered in the face of an aggressive All Black team happy to slow the game down and play for territorial advantage.

Ben Ryan’s team were pushed into resorting to a deep kicking game that played exactly into New Zealand hands. Rarely for the abbreviated game, there was a full minute of aerial ping-pong, which drew boos and jeers from the crowd.

“The conditions were hard, we thought we were playing cricket for a minute, getting rained out in the semis,” said All Black captain DJ Forbes.

“But they were tough, we stuck to our guns though and came out with the win. This is huge, for some of us the last Rugby World Cup we play.”

Coach Tietjens added: “It is awesome, a long time between drinks since 2001. We started slowly but we got that buzz going today.

“We won the World Series and have backed it up here which we haven’t won since 2001. A lot of pressure on one tournament, but to get up the way we did, was great.”

The Kiwi women’s team had earlier beaten Canada 29-12 and the results mean that New Zealand are now world champions in rugby 7s and 15s in both sexes.

The All Blacks scrapped past Fiji 17-0 in the semi-final, where play was held up for an hour because of a thunder storm over the Luzhniki Stadium.

While the claps of thunder and bolts of lightning subsided, the rain did not, continuing to teem through the whole finals programme.

England beat Kenya 12-5 in the second semi-final, played in similarly atrocious conditions, a try-saving tackle from Dan Norton the difference in a game also dominated by kicking.

The All Blacks had despatched Wales, unlikely outsiders who clinched victory in Dubai four years ago against odds of 80/1, in the quarter-finals.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” said Wales captain Lee Williams, the sole survivor from the squad that won in 2009. “Utterly disappointing that game was there for us, but errors cost us.”

Fiji had produced a display of extremely aggressive defence to batter South Africa, who had not conceded a point in pool play, into a 12-10 defeat at the same stage.

In the women’s competition, New Zealand outplayed Canada in the Cup final, defending champions Australia having paid the price for an injury to key playmaker Tiana Penitani in suffering a shock 14-10 defeat by Spain in the quarter-final.

The All Blacks won 29-12 thanks to tries from Portia Woodman (2), Kelly Brazier, Honey Hireme and Kayla McAlister, Canada responding through Ghislaine Landry and Arielle Dubissette-Borrice.

“We have worked really hard on our defence and we have played in this kind of weather so it was no problem,” Woodman said. “Canada threw stuff at us that we never expected but we coped really well and it’s amazing.”

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