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Ombachi steers nervy Shujaa home

ASHI-IRBNAIROBI, Kenya, March 22- Kenya opened their Hong Kong 7s campaign by securing a nervy 17-14 victory over a dogged USA side on Friday to lay a solid platform for their quest to qualify for the Main Cup of the competition that is the highlight of the HSBC World Series.

Andrew Amonde’s converted try set Mike Friday’s team off to the perfect start with Biko Adema’s boot doing the rest for a 7-0 lead before USA’s revered speed merchant Carlin Isles broke clear to touch down to give the opportunity to Shalom Suniula to level the scores.

Kenya regained the ascendancy with Ombachi, who had been slotted in the position vacated by the suspended Collins Injera, showing a good pair of hands before crossing the whitewash for the second try.

Adema missed the simplest of conversions as the sides went to the breather 12-7 and upon resumption; Ombachi notched his double with the former again spurning the chance to give his team a comfortable cushion from the conversion.

With three and a half minutes left to the final hooter, USA’s Matt Hawkins breached Kenya’s shaky backline for his side’s second and Folau Niua made it a three point game by converting to bring scores to 17-14.

Full time came with no further scores much to the relief of Kenya as they held on for victory despite losing possession on a number of occasions.

“It is not about rebuilding confidence after USA, we have it, but sometimes it isn’t there. You say that was the easy one in our pool, but we have a very physical group and so it is good to go into day two with a win,” Friday said after the tense encounter.

Saturday sees the team take on smarting New Zealand at 8:04am local time with the All Blacks seeking retribution for the stunning defeat Kenya inflicted on them in the Main Cup semis of their home Wellington 7s.

France will round-off Kenya’s Pool B engagements a few minutes past noon as Kenya seeks to recover from the failure of making the Main Cup quarters during their last outing at the Las Vegas sevens.

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