Shujaa fell short at the last hurdle, going down 24-12 to Fiji in a pulsating Hong Kong Sevens cup final at the Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Josua Vakurunabili won a one-on-one and his ensuing unconverted try proved an early nerve-settler for Fiji. The defending champions thought they had grabbed a second try when Jerry Tuwai flew over the line but Willy Ambaka dislodged the ball out of Tuwai’s hands in the act of scoring and the try was scratched off.
Ill luck then struck for Shujaa, Collins Injera and Ambaka yellow carded in quick succession – Injera for an indiscretion while Ambaka tackled Samisoni Viriviri without the ball – the Kenyans down to five men who defended doggedly until Eroni Sau soon doubled Fiji’s lead before Amenoni Nasilasila scored and converted to see Fiji take a 17-0 lead into the break.
Shujaa were back to their full compliment after the restart and pulled one back through Billy Odhiambo’s unconverted try.
This prompted Fiji into a response of their own, Nasilasila cutting a decisive line and going over the try line however handing it back to team-mate Vatemo Ravouvou who touched down, the ensuing conversion all but securing a successful title defense.
Captain Oscar Ouma would showcase Kenya’s power with his final surge to the line, much to the delight of the crowd, but this Cup final belonged to Fiji.
Both teams will be in action at next weekend’s Commonwealth Games rugby sevens competition in Gold Coast, Australia before returning to HSBC Sevens World Series action in Singapore on 28/29 April.