NAIROBI, April 16 – Despite falling 14-0 to South Africa in their last Group C fixture, Kenya 7s squeezed into the Main Cup quarter-finals at the Eighth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Singapore tournament on Saturday.
Just like last weekend’s Hong Kong leg, Shujaa advanced to the Cup last eight on a better goal difference at the expense of Scotland after both sides tied on six points apiece.
Kenya will now face France in the quarters on Sunday.
The Benjamin Ayimba charges, who started positively walloping Russia 21-7 before drawing 12-12 against Scotland, needed at least a stalemate to sail through.
In their last preliminary clash, Shujaa found the going tough against perennial rivals South Africa who scored a try on either half to top the pool on nine points.
Aggressive work at the breakdown saw Blitzbokke win possession just inside the Kenyan half before Cecil Afrika added his initial burst of pace, partnering with Justin Geduld to present Seabelo Senatla with the easiest of run-ins.
In the last half, Kyle Brown took his eyes off the prize after he spilled the ball despite having acres of space wide out on the left.
Kenya’s high penalty count and profligacy in possession came back to hurt them through a second try from Senatla, who turned over after great work from Cecil Afrika.
-Kenya too good for Russia-
Against Russia, Shujaa were too good for the Russians who stunned the side 24-7 in Vancouver Shield Semi-finals, as Ayimba boys grounded three tries with Sammy Oliech scoring all the conversions.
With Ayimba fielding his starting regulars, Shujaa took four minutes to break through and find the opener when veteran Humphrey Kayange touched the whitewash for his 155th career try to send Kenya on the lead at the break.
On resumption, Ayimba introduced Nelson Oyoo, Frank Wanyama, Alvin Otieno and debutant Samuel Motari in the half that saw the Russians find their only try on the hooter and deny Kenya a clean sheet.
Oliech, playing the fly-half role in the absence of injured Biko Adema doubled the scores two minutes into the second-half before bulky Willy Ambaka extended the lead and Kenya’s last try of the day.
In their second match of Group C, Ayimba made one change from the squad that walloped Russia, starting with Oyoo in favour of Leonard Mugaisi.
Shujaa struggled in the first half to find themselves trailing after four minutes of play when skipper Scott Write turned over with an unconverted try.
However, Shujaa recovered to take the half time lead through Ambaka’s try that was converted successfully by Oliech.
Captain Andrew Amonde led by example to extend Kenya’s lead two minutes into the second half, but Oliech missed his first conversion of the tournament for a 12-5 lead.
Substitute Mark Robertson came to Scotland’s rescue as he scored a 12th minute try that was converted by Write to restore parity and revive Scotland’s hopes of advancing to the Cup quarters.
The tournament returned to Singapore for the first time in 10 years with the matches played under a closed roof for the second time this season after playing on the same at the inaugural Vancouver 7s in Canada.
Fiji are the defending champions in Singapore having won the last tournament back in 2006 and the current series leaders.