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September 23, 2017

Shujaa on test

Rugby Union - Singapore Sevens - National Stadium, Singapore - 16/04/17 - England's Ollie Lindsay-Hague runs to evade tackles from Kenya./REUTERS
Rugby Union - Singapore Sevens - National Stadium, Singapore - 16/04/17 - England's Ollie Lindsay-Hague runs to evade tackles from Kenya./REUTERS

An out of sorts Kenya Sevens outfit faces a herculean task in the final leg of the World Sevens series today at Twickenham in London.

Kenya face champions and winners from last weekend South Africa in their opening match at 1:20pm followed there after by a tricky tie against USA (4:04) and Wales (7:10pm).

Shujaa have lost all three encounters to South Africa this year thus 14-7 in Sydney, 15-5 in Vancouver and 35-10 in Hong Kong. Innocent Simiyu charges will face a tall order in containing the marauding South Africans, who will have Cecil Afrika, Phillp Snyman, Branco Du Preez and talismanic forward Werner Kock in their ranks.

Kenya and USA have met twice this season with the americans winning 21-19 in Dubai and Shujaa gaining revenge a week later in Cape Town with 24-19 win. USA’s form has been superb, playing in three of the past four semifinals of the circuit. Shujaa will have to keep an eye on speedstar Perry Baker, who has tormented defences this season with his searing pace alongside Madison Hughes. Kenya and Wales have met once this season in Cape Town with Kenya winning 19-14.

Head coach Innocent Simiyu had demanded a response from his charges after picking one point from Paris last weekend, where they only won one match against Spain 26-14 and lost three others against France (14-20), Argentina (12-7), Russia (5-15). They drew 12-12 with England to finish last in the tournament.

Simiyu said the mood in the team is upbeat ahead of the tournament. “We have settled well in London after Paris last weekend. It’s a tough pool but we have enough firepower to qualify for quarters if we show up and execute,” he noted.

Kenya has been boosted by the addition of Homeboyz winger Cyprian Kuto, who returns for the first time since Cape Town and Dubai tournaments in December last year and Simiyu said he brings quality to the squad. “Kuto adds physicality, work rate and speed out wide to the squad,” added Simiyu.

Elsewhere, the Enterprise Cup semifinal enter the semis today. Holders KCB host Homeboyz in a mouthwatering semifinal clash at the Lion’s Den in Ruaraka with Kabras facing Impala at the Kakamega showground.

KCB will be eyeing revenge against the deejays after a 34 -26 defeat in the Kenya Cup early in the season. Impala are yet to secure a victory against the sugarmillers this season, losing both Kenya Cup encounters 29-26 and 21-18.

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