NAIROBI, Kenya, March 29 – Billy Odhiambo grounded a brace of tries to enable Kenya lift the Shied title, following their resounding 26-7 win over Japan at the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong on Sunday.
The win saw Felix Ochieng charges collect three points to remain 12th on 32 points ahead of next weekend’s seventh round in Tokyo and captain Andrew Amonde hopes to build on the Shield success as they seek to finish on a high.
“We needed a morale boosting victory and we are happy to win the Shield. It’s been a tough weekend for us but this will give us confidence ahead of Tokyo next weekend.”
Fiji beat New Zealand 33-19 to win the Main Cup, while South Africa were 26-5 winners over Samoa to settle third.
Australia beat USA 21-17 to be crowned Plate winners while Scotland won Bowl after overwhelming France 26-5.
Shujaa who were favourites to win the Shield did not disappoint the crowd who rallied behind them with vice captain, Collins Injera becoming the highest points scorer at the Hong Kong 7s when he opened the scoring from a galloping run down to the left for his 194th career try score that was converted by Lavin Asego.
Japan restored parity after Katsuyuki Sakai exposed space to burst and touch down behind the post before converting for a 7-7 half time score.
Odhiambo gave Kenya back-to-back tries on resumption when he ran from inside to reclaim the lead before adding the second with a lovely spin and hand-off to meander to the line for his third try of the tournament. Asego converted for a 19-7 scoreline.
Japan were unable to offer any points after the break in what was their last foray in the World Series as Leonard Mugaisi received Asego’s long pass to seal the win after the hooter to ground his ninth career try.
To reach the finals, Kenya edged out Portugal 21-0 with Asego finding the ground twice to add on Injera’s opening try.
After six minutes of dead lock, Injera gave Kenya the lead on the hooter from Amonde’s brilliant build up to breakthrough and touch behind the post for as Asego converted for a 7-0 lead at the interval.
Shujaa continued where they left on resumption with Asego doubling the lead from the breakdown before completing his brace three minutes to the final whistle, when he dashed from his try line to ground his 53rd career try before converting for the final scores.
-relegation to Shield-
Kenya were relegated to the Shield competition after going down 21-10 to Canada in the Bowl quarter-final.
Kenya who were seeking their first win of the tournament began the final day on a high that saw them complete 15-0 passes in the opening five minutes where Amonde, broke the deadlock after dispossessing Canadians to turn over his second try of the competition as Asego missed the conversion for a 5-0 lead.
The Canadians regained to ground two tries in the first-half with Harry Jones cancelling Kenya’s lead when Lucas Hammond set him to break through and score in between the sticks before converting to see Kenya trail by two points.
John moonlight extended the lead for Canada on the hooter after Mike Fualefau set him from a Michael Wanjala tackle that left the Strathmore University man limping off at the break.
Ochieng who started with veteran Humphrey Kayange, introduced Bush Mwale, Dan Sikuta and Tonny Owuor on the restart with the changes paying immediately as youngster Mwale powered through to the whitewash and reduce the deficit by four points.
Shujaa’s hopes of making a comeback suffered a blow when Canada’s substitute Sean White picked the ball from the line-out to dart Kenyan defence and go over for a 21-10 final score.