NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10- The Kenya Sevens rugby team began their campaign at the Cape Town Sevens in South Africa on a positive note, beating France 33-14 and revenging for the 24-14 loss they suffered at the hands of the French in Dubai last weekend.
The last time Shujaa beat France was in Singapore last season, and they went on to win the main cup for the very first time.
That piece of history might be a good omen for Shujaa especially as they seek to better their performance from Cape Town last season when they went all the way to the main cup semis.
An emphatic display from Innocent Simiyu’s men saw Billy ‘the kid’ Odhiambo and Willy Ambaka score a brace each while Leonard Mugaisi scored Kenya’s fifth try of the match.
Ambaka broke the deadlock touching down on the left after some patient build up from the Kenyans with the 26-year old showing superb power to wade off his chasers and skillfully evade a tackle from France captain Terry Bouhraoua a few yards away from the try line.
Augustine Lugonzo should have taken Kenya strides ahead but his pace faded off as he approached the try line and his last ditch effort to make the chance count ended in a forward pass to Nelson Oyoo.
From the restart, France went ahead with skipper Bouhraoua showing good pace to power away from his markers and touch down under the posts, converting for a 7-5 lead.
At the buzzer however, Kenya ensured they went into the break in the lead with Odhiambo touching down his 52nd career try evading a tackle from Bouhraoua three metres away from the try box with a brilliant hand off.
Straight from the restart in the second half, Shujaaa picked up from where they left and Ambaka touched down for his second try of the afternoon with a powerful run under the posts. Lugonzo converted to give Shujaa a 19-7 lead.
Dan Sikuta had an opportunity to stretch Kenya’s lead further from an Andrew Amonde offload, but the French backline caught up with him before getting to the try line and won back possession.
But there was no stopping the Kenyan boys as Leonard Mugaisi simply touched down under the posts after some good powerful work from Sikuta to push the challenge closer to the try box.
Odhiambo then stretched Kenya’s lead to 31-7 before Lugonzo added the extras for Kenya to move all clear at 33-7. France though reduced the gap at the buzzer with skipper Bouhraoua touching down and converting as the game ended 33-14.
Kenya’s next match will be against Olympic champions Fiji at 4:26pm and a win will see them progress to the main cup quarters.