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Quest for second leg title in HSBC Series goes up in smoke

James Magayi @magayijim

Kenya Seven’s quest for a second World Rugby sevens leg win in Singapore ended at the quarter-final stage following a 24-12 loss to South Africa on Sunday morning.

The dispirited squad went on to cede fifth place play-off tie against New Zealand, finishing sixth but improved their overall ranking by one place with 93 points. After a resurgent performance in the group stage in which Shujaa recovered from opening group game loss to England to reassuring victories over France and USA, the team capitulated at the knock out stage.

Innocent Simiyu’s boys were no match for South Africa who raced into a 17-0 half-time lead in the Main Cup quarter-final. Horrible passing by the Kenyans allowed Siviwe Soziyapi and Heino Bezuidenthout to ground the ball thrice in the first half with veteran Cecil Africa converting once for the huge lead.

Try machine Collins Injera sparked what initially looked like a Shujaa fight back upon resumption with a well taken try under the posts with Sammy Oliech kicking over the conversion for a 17-7 score-line.

The hungrier South Africans however, killed Kenya’s resurgent spirit with a fourth try of the game leaving Shujaa with a gigantic task. Injera touched down again late in the game long after Kenya had given up hope of catching up with the South Africans and Shujaa dropped out of the running for Singapore silverware.

Another feeble display in the fifth place play-off saw New Zealand rout Shujaa 17-7 to keep Kenya further away. Power pack Dan Sikuta scored in between Kurt Baker and Dylan Collier tries in the first half in which New Zealand led 12-7.

Kenya’s scrappy play riddled with handling errors and careless cessation of possession deprive Kenya off the ability to compete with New Zealand who added another try in the second half to nick fifth place. Kenya moved closer to the much sought after 100-point mark with their show in Singapore which yielded 10 points.

Simiyu has managed seven knock out stage appearances this season in eight legs played so far reaching two finals in Hong Kong and Vancouver. Baring disastrous outings in London, United Kingdom and Paris, France, Shujaa are expected to pass the 100-point mark in the two final legs of 2017/2018 series.

“It’s impressive to be consistent especially in the knockout stages because that is where a lot is tested and proved. We are glad to have made the many appearance and right now we shall just focus on recovery and head to the next leg in better shape.

The team is motivated and eager to perform but there are few hindrances that we strive eliminate gradually. Our targets are clear and we are moving to where we want to be,” 35 year-old Simiyu said.

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