Shujaa’s quest to break their main cup curse this season hit another snag in the ongoing 2023 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series campaign, as they failed to make it out of the group stage yet again. In their eighth outing of the season held in Hong Kong, the Kenyan 7s side succumbed to a second consecutive defeat, losing 26-14 to Ireland on Saturday 1 April morning.
Their bid to recover from their opening match loss to the current Series leaders New Zealand, where they were thrashed 29-5 in the Group D opener, was dealt a major blow against Ireland. Shujaa needed nothing short of a win to stay in contention for a playoff spot, but their fate was sealed within the first minute of the match. They allowed Ireland an easy try following a failure to gather the ball from the kickoff. Harry McNulty took advantage of the loose ball and ran free to the try line to give his side a 7-0 lead after a successful Mark Roche conversion.
Shujaa managed to level the score at 7-7 when Alvin ‘Buffa’ Otieno showed his strength and pace by running from inside his own 22m line all the way to the Ireland try line. Tony Omondi converted the effort to bring parity to the scores. The two sides continued to engage in an evenly contested encounter, but the Irish regained the lead just before half time. Andrew Smith went over the chalk, and Roche added his second conversion of the game for a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Shujaa started the second half with a renewed sense of purpose and momentum. Kevin Wekesa gathered a seemingly stray pass from Billy Odhiambo, playing in Johnstone Olindi whose offload on the tackle created a try-scoring opportunity for Odhiambo, who touched down with Omondi converting to once again draw Shujaa level. However, two more tries from Roche sealed the contest as Ireland picked up their first win in the group after losing 7-14 against South Africa in their opener.
To salvage any hope of making it to the playoffs, Shujaa must now beat Blitzbok in the final pool match scheduled for 1025EAT and finish the group in third place. The Hong Kong 7s Results indicate that New Zealand beat Kenya 29-5, Ireland beat Kenya 26-14, while South Africa will play Kenya at 1025EAT.