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Lionesses get dose of top rugby action at Emirates Invitational

By Alex Njue
Wednesday, April 7th, 2021
Kenya Lionesses speedster Janet ‘Shebesh’ Okello battles with a French tackler during the first leg of the Emriates 7s Invitational tournament in Dubai at the weekend. Photo/PD/ALEX NJUE
In summary

The first leg of the Emirates Invitational Sevens rugby tournament offered vital lessons to Kenya Lionesses after they suffered six losses but the return event tomorrow and Friday should offer them a shot at redemption. 

The tournament set to shape up teams preparing for the Tokyo Olympics and the others to participate in the final qualifier event, Repechage in Monaco in two months’ time, was not a good outing for the Lionesses who almost won their opener against Japan but a costly tackling error saw them forfeit a 14-12 lead to lose the match 19-14.

 Lionesses head coach Felix Oloo is banking on a speedy recovery and getting their basics right ahead of the competition.

During the Madrid 7s in February, Lionesses finished bottom in the first leg but returned stronger to shock rivals, playing all the way to the finals.

 “The first tournament took a toll on my players. We need to get our basics right and we are working on our breakdown realignment and overall reaction in the game before Thursday kick off,” Oloo told People Sport.

 The Lionesses kicked off their opener match by trailing 0-12 to Japan at half time and a comeback fight saw them largely command the second half of the match with two converted tries through Stella Wafula and captain Philadelphia Orlando, both converted by Janet Okello to lead 14-12.

But on restart, Japan’s winger beat Lionesses’ markers to score a decisive try to walk away with a 19-14 win instead.

 Later, Lionesses managed a try each against USA and Canada but lost to HSBC Sevens core teams to land Brazil in the first match of day two.

 Day two opener match was also a close affair despite the Lionesses losing to Brazil 17-5 off three tries against one unconverted try. 

The Lionesses, however, put up a good fight against France scoring 12 points despite conceding 31.

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