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Hard fighting Shujaa lose Vancouver final to Fiji

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11- Kenya’s hope of a second ever World Rugby Sevens Series Main Cup Final conquest was thwarted after a 31-12 loss against Fiji at a fully packed BC Place Arena in Vancouver early Monday.

Shujaa came into the final with the hope of repeating their heroics from the Singapore Final in 2016 against the same opponents, but the islanders looking to close in on series leaders South Africa were hungrier on the day, winning their 34th ever Main Cup title.

With the loss in the final though, Shujaa pick up a massive 19 points from the Vancouver leg, taking their total haul this season to 64, at least going four points past their target of 60 points by this point of the season.

They remain eighth on the table, four points off seventh placed England while Fiji move within eight points of leaders South Africa who finished third after beating USA in the bronze play-off.

Innocent Simiyu’s charges had taken in a 12-12 score at half time, but the Fijians came back different animals in the second half with substitute Amenoni Nasilasila making most of the difference.

Gold medal winner Fiji is joined by silver medal winner Kenya and Bronze Medal winner South Africa for a group photo on day two of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Vancouver on 11th March, 2018. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

Kenya struck first blood with Willy Ambaka dotting down his 99th career try after some brilliant build up from Kenya from a turnoever, Billy Odhiambo laying off the ball for Ambaka to finish. Sammy Oliech booted home the extras for a 7-0 lead.

However, Fiji responded immediately after going down, Josua Vakurunabili dotting down under the posts after striding through the middle. Vatemo Ravouvou converted as the two sides went seven-up.

Oliech then took Kenya back into the steering wheel when Kenya won back possession from a penalty. His attempt from the conversion however went wide.

Just like it happened after the first try, Fiji responded immediately when Sevuloni Mocenacagi won the ball off the restart on the right and streamed straight for the try box. The conversion was wide as both teams went to the break with 12 points.

Fiji made changes after the break with Nasilasila coming on.

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Fiji became the first team to notch two tournament titles this season, leapfrogging New Zealand to move from third to second in the series standings behind South Africa

The bulky Fijian made all the difference as he went straight into business creating for Mocenacagi who stormed through the Kenyan defense to dot down his second try of the match under the posts with Vakurunabili converting for a 19-12 lead.

Nasilasila once again created Fiji’s fourth try of the game turning over possession after Kenya won the ball off the restart. He kicked the ball upfield from deep in his own 22 with Billy Odhiambo failing in his attempt to pick out the ball.

A chasing Alosio Naduva had the easy task of picking up the ball and racing under the posts under no pressure, the conversion coming through for a 26-12 lead with under 90 seconds to play.

Another substitute, Paula Dranisinukula put the game beyond doubt for the Fijians when he powered through across the line from a line-out 10 metres off the Kenyan try box for a 31-12 win.

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