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Shujaa to face Japan in relegation dogfight

Kenya’s Jeff Oluoch breaks through the Fiji defense on day one of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series at Twickenham Stadium in London on 25 May, 2019. Photo credit: Mike Lee – KLC fotos for World Rugby

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – The national rugby sevens team will face off with bottom placed Japan in the 13th place semi-final at the London leg of the World Sevens series after losing out 29-21 to Scotland in the Challenge Trophy quarter final on Sunday afternoon.

Shujaa will need to beat Japan by all costs to ensure they remain safe from the relegation zone as they stand the danger of dropping a place down with fellow relegation fighters Wales having progressed to the semi-finals of the Challenge Trophy.

With Shujaa dropping to 13th place, it means the most they can pick up from London is three points, and that is if they go on all the way to the final and win. If they lose the semi to Japan, they will only pick a point and if they go to the final and lose, they will get a point.

Wales, currently placed 14th, will definitely swap places with Kenya after this round in London as the most number of points they can pick is eight, if they win the Challenge Trophy, seven if they lose the final and five if they lose the semi.

A loss for Shujaa against Japan means they can end the London leg just a point shy of relegation if the Japanese go all the way and win the 13th place trophy.

If Kenya moves into the 13th place play-off final, they will meet the winner between home side England and Spain.

Shujaa came into their first match on day two needing to win to get into the semi-finals and give themselves a chance of raking in as many points as possible to boost their survival hopes.

However, they were always playing the chasing game against the Scots and an absurd decision to keep playing after the buzzer had gone at half time came to haunt them as they allowed Scotland into the lead.

Heading to half time, Shujaa were leading 14-12 after twin tries from former captain Andrew Amonde had taken them ahead. However, with the buzzer gone, Kenya decided to keep playing from deep, five metres out of their try line.

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Scotland rubbed their hands and took the advantage, turning over possession with Jamie Fernadale crossing over to give Scotland and 19-14 lead at the break.

Robbie Ferguson had given the Scots the lead before Amonde dotted down and Daniel Taabu converted for a 7-5 lead. From the restart, Scotland won possession and Glenn Bryce made it count with a converted try that made it 12-7.

However, Amonde took Kenya back into the lead with Taabu converting before the suicidal decision after the buzzer saw the lead change hands.

At the start of the second half, Kenya got back into the lead when Cyprian Kuto turned over play and fed off Jeff Oluoch who stepped inside and out to take away two markers before stretching his hand across the line.

Taabu converted for a 21-19 lead.

But, the Scots raced back to take the advantage, Fernadale dotting down his second of the afternoon before Scnyle Godsmark made it 29-21 with a try off a maul o the right.

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