NAIROBI, Kenya, February 2- It was heartbreak for brave Kenya after falling to England 24-19 in extra time of an absorbing Main Cup final of the Wellington Sevens.
Shujaa were one second away from a first ever Main Cup victory in their only second ever final having led 19-12 but after they lost two players to the sin bin, England were able to score two late tries through Christian Lewis-Pratt, to take the match to Extra Time, and then Sam Edgerley to win it.
The staggering performance from a team that got to New Zealand late elevated Kenya to second on the HSBC Sevens Series log on 56 points, their highest ever placing yet, behind the All Blacks who lead the standings on 77.
After Oscar Ouma received his marching orders for knocking on the ball intentionally, Lewis-Pratt brought the English level at 19-19 before young Edgerley; a second half substitute decided the contest just two minutes into the added time to seal the disappointing end to Kenya’s charge.
It was the more experienced team that got off from the blocks well, establishing a 12-0 lead with Dan Norton and Lewis-Platt who converted the first going over Kenya’s try line.
Horace Otieno and Biko Adema made it a five point affair after the former bulldozed his way to go over to bring scores to 12-7 before Oscar Ouma touched down to level matters at 12-12.
That paved the way for a moment of breathtaking brilliance from William Ambaka to give Mike Friday’s charges the advantage on the break.
The number 12 raced almost the entire field to score a noteworthy solo try and the boot of Adema made it 19-12 to Kenya.
Friday’s charges then held on to their advantage and Collins Injera almost extended their lead before he was stopped just short of the try line by a splendid tackle from Marcus Watson.
Andrew Amonde was first to the sin bin before Ouma received his matching orders to leave Kenya well short when England launched their very final attack that saw them force the game to extra time.
It was just the final dramatic act in an extraordinary day in Wellington when Kenya earlier beat New Zealand 19-14, also in Extra Time, to reach the 2013 Hertz Sevens final.
Earlier, Kenya who received roaring support from the crowd qualified to the Main Cup final by beating hosts New Zealand 19-14.
“I am so proud of the boys, to come from 14-0 down; we have had two educations of New Zealand in losing two semi finals on how to play the game.
“But that mental belief is starting to come, such a big part of the game of Sevens, and credit to them. 14-0 down in Wellington, to come back and win it at sudden death that is great spirit and that typifies this Kenyan team,” Friday told IRB after the epic performance at the semi.
Having trailed 14-0, Mike Friday’s side scored two second-half tries to take the match into sudden death extra time before Ouma scored the all-important try, his second of the match. New Zealand still finished third overall, beating Samoa 17-7 in the third place play-off.
Ben Ryan’s side booked their place in the final beating Samoa 21-19. Trailing 12-0, Christian Lewis-Pratt (twice) and Marcus Watson gave them a 21-12 lead which proved enough despite Lio Lolo’s effort.
In the quarter finals, New Zealand beat Australia 24-5 thanks to two tries from Gillies Kaka; England defeated the Auld Enemy 31-7 with Dan Norton and Marcus Watson scoring two each, while Samoa proved too strong for Argentina.
In what was arguably the most entertaining quarter final, Kenya defeated African rivals South Africa 21-20. Having trailed 15-7 and 20-14, Willy Ambaka scorched away to score his second try of the match to snatch a 21-20 victory for Mike Friday’s side with four missed conversions proving decisive for South Africa.
Kenya will now face South Africa, Canada and Uruguay in Group B of the Las Vegas Sevens next week.