Kenya Lionesses storm Challenger Series quarter-finals

Janet Okello

Janet Okello of Kenya Lionesses in action against South Africa during their World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series Pool "D" match in Chile on August 12, 2022.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Coach Dennis Mwanja’s charges began their campaign for promotion to the 2022/23 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series with a hard-earned 17-15 victory over former core team China in a tense match
  • Grace Okulu’s 10th minute conversion proved decisive in Kenya’s victory in the opening match against China
  • In their final group stage match, Kenya came from behind to defeat Chile 15-5 with speedster Okello scoring two tries and Stella Nelima Wafula one



Kenya Lionesses made a bright start to the World Rugby Challenger Series after dominating China, South Africa and hosts Chile in Pool “D” in Santiago on Saturday.

Coach Dennis Mwanja’s charges began their campaign for promotion to the 2022/23 World Rugby Women's Sevens Series with a hard-earned 17-15 victory over former core team China in a tense match.

Grace Okulu’s 10th minute conversion was the difference in Kenya’s victory against the Chinese. Okulu opened the scoring with an unconverted try but Yan Meiling equalized 5-5.

Both sides were level 10-10 at the breather after Naomi Amuguni had restored Kenya’s lead only for X. Wang to tie the scores.

Kenya started the second half on a wrong-footing after Liu Xiaoqian put China on top for the first time in the match just seconds from restart. However, Okulu ensured Kenya upset China after converting Jean Bisela Simiyu’s try.

Okulu put on another woman-of-the-match performance in the second fixture against arch-rivals South Africa.

Okulu and new captain Judith Auma scored a try each with the former converting for a 12-0 half-time lead. Although Liske Lategan reduced the gap by grounding an unconverted try, Kenya made sure of the emphatic win with tries from Japan-based Janet “Shebesh” Okello, Auma and Okulu. Okulu successfully converted two tries.

In their final group stage match, Kenya came from behind to defeat Chile 15-5 with speedster Okello scoring two tries and Stella Nelima Wafula one.

Gissel Castaneda gave Chile a 5-0 first half lead but could not stop the rampaging Kenyans in the second stanza.

The Chileans had lost 22-10 and 36-0 to South Africa and China respectively, setting up a mouth-watering clash between China and South Africa for a place in the quarter-final.

The Lionesses went into the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series disappointed for missing out on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in England last month and 2022 Rugby World Cup Sevens set for next month in South Africa after a lacklustre show at the Africa Women Sevens in Tunisia in April.

Upon arrival in Chile, coach Dennis Mwanja said the Lionesses wanted to give a good account of themselves. Mwanja attributed the victories to improved ball handling and defence.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.