A Tough Lesson: China Overpowers Kenya Lionesses in Olympic Repechage

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China’s dominance defeats Kenya 24-7 in Olympic Repechage final.
Kenya struggled with errors and China’s tactical pressure.
Coach Mwanja sees potential benefits in missing Olympics.
Focus on building depth for future competitions.

In a display of sheer physical dominance and speed, China’s women’s rugby sevens team overpowered the Kenya Lionesses, dashing their hopes of qualifying for a third-successive Olympic Games. The final of the Olympic Repechage in Monaco ended with a decisive 24-7 victory for China, securing their spot in Paris this August.

A Promising Start Cut Short

The match began on a promising note for China, who quickly capitalized on a lapse in Kenya’s defense. A swift attack down the right flank saw China score a well-converted try, establishing an early lead. However, Kenya responded with vigor as Janet Okello made a stunning run, equalizing the score with a converted try.

Despite this equalizer, China’s momentum remained unstoppable. They surged ahead just before halftime, leaving the Lionesses trailing and struggling to catch up. China’s strategy and execution were flawless, showcasing their season-long preparation and dominance.

The Second Half: China’s Commanding Performance

After the break, China’s Sun Yu extended their lead with another converted try, making the score 17-7. The Lionesses, feeling the pressure, began to falter. Panic set in, leading to several unforced errors and unnecessary penalties. China’s tactical prowess came into play as they forced Kenya into committing yellow card offenses, further weakening their opposition.

China’s relentless pressure culminated in another converted try from a scrum within their 22-yard box, sealing their victory with a final score of 24-7. Despite a valiant effort from Kenya, exemplified by Judith Akumu’s near breakthrough, they could not close the gap.

Reflecting on the Setback: Coach Mwanja’s Perspective

Head coach Dennis Mwanja offered a reflective perspective on the Lionesses’ performance and the implications of missing out on the Olympics. Speaking to Pulse Sports, Mwanja suggested that this setback could be a disguised blessing, emphasizing the need for a stronger foundational base and increased depth in the women’s sevens squad.

“Maybe it is a silver lining we did not qualify for the next level because our base is not good enough. We do not have a lot of depth in the women’s sevens,” Mwanja explained. He highlighted the necessity of developing a more robust team structure to compete effectively in future tournaments.

Building for the Future: A Focus on Depth and Development

Mwanja’s vision for the team’s future involves cultivating greater depth and talent within the squad. “This year, we are working on getting more depth so that next time we can get to the next level of the HSBC sevens,” he stated. He acknowledged the progress made but underscored the importance of broadening the player base to elevate the standards of women’s rugby in Kenya.

“We are grateful for our journey and growth, but we are looking forward to having more depth so that we can have a broader journey and base of players to be able to play and raise the standards of women’s rugby in order to get to the next level,” Mwanja added.

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