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Kenya squeeze to HK7s Main Cup quarters

OMBACHI-HK7NAIROBI, Kenya, March 23- Kenya squeezed to the Main Cup quarters of the Hong Kong Sevens on Saturday as a last gasp Horace Otieno try saw them edge out France 19-17 in their final Pool B game.

Julien Candelon powered down the left touchline to opening the scoring for France before a moment of pure class from Dennis Ombachi saw Mike Friday’s side hit back.

From his own touchline, Ombachi raced down the left wing, handed off Julien Candelon without breaking stride, and
dotted down under the posts with Biko Adema converting to give his team a 7-5 advantage.

Candelon who was at the heart of all things France then fend off two would-be defenders to score in the left corner as his team went to half time 10-7 in the lead.

“Keep working as a six. It’s going to hurt. Get your heads round it. This is a breeze compared with the House of Pain. Accuracy in everything we do,” Friday roared to his charges at half time.

However, Steeve Barry ensured that France’s period of territorial superiority at the start of the second half was rewarded with a try with Paul Albaladejo finally landing a successful conversion as they left Kenya with all to do to get to the Main Cup quarters with a 17-7 cushion.

With Friday’s men struggling to get out of their 22, they suddenly sparked to life a minute to the final hooter when Oscar Ouma brushed-off Albaladejo after Kenya managed to retain possession to score a try in the right corner.

Adema added the conversion but France still led 17-14 with 30 seconds to go but in a dramatic end to the game, they lost Jean Baptiste Gobele to the bin for delaying release at the ruck.

Kenya keep their cool deep into added time as Horace Otieno dived over in the left corner as Friday went barmy on the touchline.

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“That’s the harsh reality of sevens, this time it has gone our way, and we’re just happy to be in the Cup quarters tomorrow.

“It is where we want to be, we talk about consistency, but that is kind of the Holy Grail. If you can get consistent Cup quarters you are doing something right. Hopefully we can get back on track, but this Series is ridiculous in terms of competitiveness,” Friday said after the tension filled victory.

Earlier, a limp display from Shujaa saw them get outclassed 31-7 by the rampaging New Zealand in their second pool fixture.

The game kicked-off with two converted tries inside the opening couple of minutes as Sherwin Stowers went down for the All Blacks with Gillies Kaka making it 7-0 before straight from the resultant kick-off, Willy Ambaka raced 60m to touch down for a brilliant solo try.

Eden Agero sent the ball between the posts to level scores and that is how closest Kenya came to New Zealand who extended their lead through a converted D J Phobes try to go 14-7 up at half time.

Tim Mikkelson who breached Kenya’s try line and the boot of Kaka made it 21-7 at the start of the second period before Sam Dickson and Phobes added further converted tries to shut out Friday’s team in a game Shujaa mustered no pass in the entire opening period.

Kenya opened their campaign with a nervous 17-14 victory over USA on Friday.

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