NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 11- The last time Kenya played Fiji in a Main Cup final at the World Rugby Sevens Series, it ended in Shujaa’s first ever title at the Singapore Sevens in 2016. Will history repeat itself?
Fast forward to two years later, Kenya once again finds itself in a final against the Fijians after a brilliant come-from-behind 24-19 victory against Mike Friday’s USA in the Vancouver Sevens semi-finals.
The two sides have already met in Vancouver this weekend in the group stages where Fiji were 24-21 winners. However, they met last weekend in Vegas and Shujaa managed to pick a win in their final group match, one which took them to the Main Cup quarters.
Oscar Ouma’s try after the buzzer gave Innocent Simiyu’s charges a place in the final after the team came from 14-0 down, but while Ouma will get credit for dotting down the ball that took Kenya to the final, Collins Injera was the main man for Kenya in that semi.
Shujaa fell behind 14-0 to a quick brace of tries from speed man Perry Baker. He first dotted down after the USA stretched out Kenya’s backline and the speed-man found space on the right to sneak in a try.
He added his second in quick succession when USA won the ball off the restart after Ouma failed to have a firm grip on the ball and Baker raced straight under the posts. Folau Niua converted both as USA went 14-0 up.
But the never-say-die attitude of Shujaa that has been their hallmark in Canada was in clear show as they pressed on.
Shujaa won the ball back off USA after the restart and Nelson Oyoo was fed with the ball on the left, using the strength of his arms to push away to markers before racing under the posts.
Sammy Oliech converted to halve the deficit for the Kenyans.
Just before the break, Shujaa once again proved their grit, Injera winning back the ball for Kenya then racing for the try box.
However with pace still out of his reach and Carlin Isles breathing on his neck, Injera cited Oyoo’s run before offloading for him to dot down on the right.
After the break, The USA stretched their lead to a seven point game when Isles dotted down on the left with the conversion going wide.
With the clock ticking and under two minutes left, Shujaa kept pounding hoping to benefit from a USA mistake.
Again, it was that man Injera who won the ball back after stretching out to pick a USA loose pass, a little inside and outside step seeing him escape from his marker before citing Willy Ambaka’s run, offloading the ball and the big man nicknamed ‘Kenya’s Lomu’ doing the most to dot down.
With seconds on the clock, pressure was on Eden Agero to add in the extras and he made no mistake from a good position to tie the scores at 19-19.
Shujaa were scenting victory and were not ready to let the game go to extra time.
Injera once again showed his experience and brilliant rugby brain, winning the ball then offloading to Ouma who used his sheer strength to power on the left before going over the line.