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Shujaa look to end on high as Paris, London beckon

Sammy Oliech breezes past a Chilean opponent during the Las Vegas Sevens in the United States of America on March 4, 2017

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu has issued a rallying call to his charges to end the season on a high when they tackle the final two legs of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series season in Paris and London.

Shujaa has endured a tough season compared to last term when they went as far as winning a Main Cup during the Singapore leg, but Simiyu says they can wipe off the tears by charging for at least one of the two remaining titles.

“We have a benchmark of getting at least 10 points per tournament, but the biggest aim heading into the final bend is to see whether we can win at least one of these two tournaments. I believe we have the firepower enough to secure a win and recover some of the points lost in the other tournaments in the season,” Simiyu said looking ahead to the penultimate stage in Paris this weekend.

Shujaa who have made it into the Main Cup quarter finals only twice this season are in Group C of the Paris 7s alongside hosts France, Spain and England.

“The first game against France will be key for us in terms of giving us a head-start. We haven’t played Spain before in the series this season but we have faced them in a training match and we have done some good analysis on them,” Simiyu said.

He added; “For England it will be more emotional. We have been coming too close to beating them like the last time we met and I believe this time we will do our best to secure a win against them.”

Kenya has struggled against England and over their last 32 meetings in the World Sevens Series, Shujaa has only won six times and lost 23.

They might however, find some good luck this time round as the last time they won against the English was in May 2011 when Lavin Asego scored a last minute converted try to give Shujaa a 19-17 win at the London Sevens in Twickenham.

Shujaa came agonizingly close in April this year during the Singapore Sevens but ended up losing 13-12, a last minute lapse in concentration costing them a place in the Main Cup Semis after Dan Bibby scored a penalty after the hooter.

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Kenya Sevens stunned Australia 19-17 to lift the Challenge Trophy at Wellington 7s.

Kenya has played the French four times already this season, winning three encounters and losing once. The last meeting was at the Hong Kong Sevens where Shujaa convincingly won 29-12.

Overall, the two sides have met 35 times in the series, Kenya having the lead in terms of head-to-head record, winning 21 of those encounters.

Kenya hasn’t played much against Spain which is not one of the core teams in the series. Their last meeting was at the Hong Kong Sevens in 2014 where Shujaa won 12-7. Overall, these two sides have met 10 times, Shujaa winning eight and losing two.

Last season in Paris, Kenya reached the quarter finals of the Main Cup. Losing to hosts France 24-5 having finished second in the group. They could not get past the Plate Semis later on, losing 26-7 to Australia.

With Collins Injera ruled out of the final tour with injury, Simiyu will look on to the experience of skipper Andrew Amonde, Sammy Oliech, Dennis Ombachi and Billy Odhiambo to steer the team to victory.

Fly-half Darwin Mukidza who was the top try scorer during the Kenya Cup might also get a run in having been recalled to the team for the first time since the Cape Town Sevens.

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