NAIROBI, October 3 – Willy Ambaka was the star of the day as Kenyan top side Shujaa cruised to the Main Cup quarter-finals after finishing second in their Pool in the opening day of the 20th Safari Sevens at Safaricom Stadium.
Kenya’s second team, Morans, were relegated to the Bowl by point aggregate after finishing third in Pool C, having collected seven points same as Samurai and Zimbabwe who conceded less as fans stayed away from the annual invitational international sevens showpiece.
Shujaa face Newcastle Wailers in the Main Cup quarters while Morans will take on Zambia in the Bowl competition.
Australia Iconz face Western Province, Samurai take on England Saxons as Spain lock horns with Zimbabwe in other Main Cup quarters clashes.
Shujaa who were drawn in Pool A, mauled Burundi 61-0 before hammering Italy 37-0 but were held by South African side, Western Province 10-10.
Morans on the other hand beat Zimbabwe 12-10 before going down 29-12 to former Kenya head coach, Mike Friday’s Samurai but they redeemed themselves in their final Pool C match to overcome neighbours Uganda 36-0.
Head coach, Benjamin Ayimba urged his charges to continue with the impressive display but cautioned against getting carried away as the tournament enters its knock out stage on Sunday.
“The players were very relaxed especially Morans who despite not having experienced men, they went game by game and were exceptional more so in the last match.
“We need to concentrate on the game play. Shujaa are more composed so we need to bring the same to Morans. We want to limit their excitement so that they can work together,” Ayimba, who is seeking his fourth Safari Sevens win said after the last match.
Against Burundi, Ambaka returned to the national team with a bang, grounding a hat-trick of tries while upcoming Kenya Harlequins winger, Frank Wanyama and Alvin Otieno each touched down twice with Nondescript’s Oscar Dennis completing the rout.
Wanyama who stood out in the scrum, opened the scoring with a well deserved try after receiving a precise pass from Ambaka before powering through to ground under the post for Biko Adema to convert.
The Harlequins winger was at it again when he went over at the left corner to double the lead after Adema’s kick went through.
Ambaka, proved his worth three minutes later after handing off Polcalpe Bakorishaka to sprint to the try-line before Nelson Oyoo extended the lead for a 28-0 half-time lead.
On resumption, the Western Province winger notched a brace after scoring at the corner from captain, Andrew Amonde’s assist.
Dennis made the scores 40-0 as Ambaka found his third when he was set up by Oyoo as Otieno sealed the win with two late tries.
Against Italy, Wanyama stole the show once again when he touched down twice in a match that Ayimba charges pinned the European side in their own half.
Wanyama set the tone before setting up Oyoo who powered through to touch down behind the post for a 10-0 lead.
Ambaka extended the lead when he intercepted Italy’s pass to go for the converted try as Shujaa headed to the breather 17-0 up.
The second-half saw Kennedy Moseti turnover from the scrum as Augustine Lugonzo, wanyama and Jeff Oluoch ensured their names were on the score sheet.
The last preliminary match for Shujaa was a top of the table clash that determined who could go top.
It was a tight game that saw Ambaka break the deadlock but Jason Kriel levelled on the hooter after mounting pressure on Shujaa.
Ambaka scored against his former side on the second-half from Amonde set up but Josh Bassingwaighte denied Shujaa the win after restoring parity at the hooter.
Morans braved off to a hard fought win over Zimbabwe in their opener, with Samuel Motari picking skipper, Eden Agero’s pass to set the pace with the converted try that they held to the interval.
Boyd Rouse reduced deficit for the Sables but the hosts upped their game to see Ahmed Shaban double the lead.
Kijan Magunje pulled a try back for Zimbabwe after Marans’ Collins Shikholi was sent to the sin bin but time was not on their side as Paul Murunga’s boys held on for the win.
Moran found a hard time against Samurai even after Robert Aringo gave them a bright start when he scored from kick-off as Agero converted but Kenyan, Oscar Ouma tacked Strafford Abeka to reduce the deficit to two points.
Impala RFC’s Sammy Oliech sent Samurai to the lead after touching down twice for a 17-7 half-time lead.
Abeka was sent to the sin bin but Tony Onyango and Geoffrey Ominde scored before Samurai hammered the final nail in the coffin.
Moran bounced back against Uganda with Samuel Motari grabbing a brace while David Kivuti, Ominde and Donald Oluoch grounded each.