Kenyan Shujaa recorded mixed results on the first day of the Dubai Sevens at the Sevens Stadium yesterday.
In their opening Group A match, defending World Rugby Sevens Series champions and current series leaders Australia twice trailed to deny Shujaa their first win of the 2022-2023 season after holding Shujaa with a 19-19 draw.
After a winless run during last month’s season opener in Hong Kong, Kenya needed a bright start and despite leading 14-7 at half-time, they could not overcome the high-flying Aussies who also they won the Hong Kong stage.
Herman Humwa gave Kenya a 7-0 lead after landing in the first minute which Anthony Omondi converted before Billy Odhiambo provided a second try converted by Omondi for a surprise 14-0 lead.
The Aussies, however, would respond with a Josh Turner try converted by Maurice Longbottom as they trailed 14-7 at the break.
In the final half, the defending champions restored parity through Henry Paterson, whose try was converted by Dietrich Roache for a 14-14 draw with four minutes to play.
Willy Ambaka, who spoke out last week during Shujaa’s financial crisis outburst on social media, put Kenya back in the lead after landing in the corner, but the conversion would go wide.
The missed conversion would come to haunt Shujaa after Australia equalized once more through Longbottom in the closing minutes.
In the second game, things went from bad to worse quickly after going down 17-0 to African heavyweights South Africa who scored through JC Pretorius, Ryan Oosthuizen and Impi Visser.
Although Shujaa responded with two tries from Anthony Omondi and Dennis Abukuse, Dewald Human and Ricardo James Duarttee secured victory for the Blitzboks.
South Africa lost their first match 12-5 to Great Britain. Kenya were due to play Great Britain in their final group game last night.
Last month, Shujaa had a poor start to the season at the Hong Kong Sevens, finishing last without a win.
Shujaa managed just one point from the first leg when they lost to New Zealand 43-0 in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Trophy before surprisingly going down to Uruguay 10-7 in the semi-finals to claim 13th place. This is after losing all of their group games.
Locally, former Kenya Cup champions KCB will be eager to maintain their perfect start to the 2022-23 season when they travel to play Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) RFC in Kakamega today.
Currently second on the log with five points, level with leaders Menengai Oilers and third placed Kabras Sugar, the bankers this season have set their sights on finishing top and will need a bonus point win to ensure know that they follow the path to reach their goal.
However, they SHOULD have improved over the last few years and will be looking to get back to winning ways after narrowly losing to Strathmore Leos last weekend.