The men’s national rugby 7s side, Shujaa, handed themselves a final chance of ensuring they stay in next season’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as they managed to scrape through to the playoff final despite losing their third pool match 14-10 against Uruguay.
With Canada having thrashed Tonga 43-7 in their final pool match to confirm the first spot in the playoff final, Kenya and Uruguay went into the match knowing that only a win would book them the remaining slot. For Kenya, who had won their opening two pool games on Saturday with victories over Canada and Tonga, the secret to booking the ticket was just to avoid being beaten by more than eight points.
Uruguay, on the other hand, had everything to play for knowing that they had to get the margin to ensure their season in the top tier does last for just one season following their promotion at the start of the campaign.
Expectedly, both teams treaded carefully as they sought not to hand their opponents any favours. While Kenya found difficulty to get going especially in their attacking play, Uruguay, just before the half time break, managed to land the first blow in the bout when Bautista Basso wriggled through to land the opening try that was converted by Guillermo Litjenstein to give them a 7-0 lead at the break.
Shujaa continued displaying their nerves in the second half and were made to pay when Felipe Arcos Perez touched down the team’s second converted try in the 9th minute to give the Uruguayans the margin they needed to sail through. Stunned by the prospect of losing their status from the Series since their promotion back in 2002-2003, Kenya managed to find a precious try as a determined Alvin ‘Buffa’ Otieno managed to beat his markers before touching down under the posts to reduce the deficit to 14-7 following Tony Omondi’s successful conversion.
Late desperate attempts by Uruguay in the final minutes saw the team hand Kenya easy possession as they infringed twice within seconds.
Kenya scored from a drop kick which was nailed by Johnstone Olindi to bring the game to close at 14-10, sending Kenya through to the final. The Damian McGrath coached side will now take on Canada at 1856EAT with the winner retaining their spot in the Series next season.