PARIS, France- Shujaa produced one of the shocks of the opening day of Paris 7s when they stunned series leaders Fiji 22-19 on Saturday to keep their Main Cup quarterfinal dream alive.
After starting their Pool A campaign with a 5-24 defeat to New Zealand, Kenya threw the race of the 2017/18 HSBC World Sevens Series wide open when they stunned the team that has won the last four legs in the final event of the campaign.
Coach Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu’s charges raced to an early lead when a Kenya scrum inside the Fijian 22 ended with seasoned Collins Injera picking up at the base and going through a big gap to score.
The huge Kenyan support inside the stadium roared but the conversion was missed and brilliant running rugby from Shujaa led to another score.
The series of offloads was as aesthetically pleasing as it was effective, allowing Injera to make yards before popping to Willy Ambaka who finished the move. The conversion is missed again, leaving them a 10-point advantage.
Shujaa who famously toppled their opponents at the 2016 Singapore 7s final for their one and only Series Main Cup victory were on fire and were the ones playing typical Fijian rugby and it was former captain Andrew Amonde who went over this time, again as a result of some fantastic offloading play.
Again, the extras were missed but Fiji scored when they most needed to, right on the stroke of half-time.
Semi Kunatani effortlessly glided through the centre of the Kenyan defence to dot down under the posts, which is duly converted by Waisea Nacuqu. It’s all to play for in the second period as Shujaa went to the break15-7 up.
Shujaa got the advantage after the restart when Eroni Sau knocked a Kenyan pass forward inside his own 22 and was yellow carded as a result.
This allowed the African team to take their time in attacking before swinging it wide to Erick Ombasa, who spotted that the Fijian yellow card meant that there was no sweeper home, before prodding it in behind the defence and diving on the ball to extend his side’s lead.
There were under two minutes left and Josua Vakurunabili scored out wide for Fiji to narrow the gap to just 10 points to set a blockbuster finish.
Vakurunabili scored his brace, almost identical to his first, to close the gap to just three points.
It was converted and the hooter sounded, but Fiji had time for the kickoff, which went high was found a white shirt.
Eventually, Kenya managed to disrupt the attack and the full time whistle blew to mark a momentous victory for the underdogs who play Samoa later Saturday where victory will put them in sound frame to make the Cup quarters.
Elsewhere, Scotland shocked Series champions and second placed South Africa 14-12 with only seven points separating them from Fiji before the tournament started.