NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 10 – Kenya’s search for a first victory over England since 2011 continued as they were 28-14 losers against the English in their opening group match at the Vancouver Sevens in Canada on Saturday night.
England came from behind to win, in a match where Shujaa was hugely undone by Willy Ambaka being sent to the sinbin after his interception of a Dan Bibby pass a few meters from the try line which was awarded as a penalty try by the referee.
The Kenyans were eager to revenge for a 19-12 loss to England the last time they met in Sidney on February 4 and this being deputy skipper Collins Injera’s record equaling 70th tournament appearance, only a win would cap the occasion.
Shujaa started well with Ambaka touching down under the posts after a sleek pass from Eden Agero. Throughout the opening three minutes, the Kenyans had patiently sat back as England kept possession but once the pendulum swung in the opposite direction, they ensured it counted.
Bibby’s kick and chase after Kenya had gone ahead almost bore fruit, but the ball took an awkward bounce and Kenya won back possession.
Ambaka should have taken Kenya at least 12-0 up after he won the ball deep, took on a run but the speedy England players caught up with him just two meters short of the try line.
When they won possession, Phil Burgess was fed with the ball on the left, taking a massive run and dotting down for a 7-5 scoreline. Skipper Tom Mitchell added in the extras as the two sides went to the break seven-up.
Kenya went back to the lead with Sammy Oliech taking a spirited run down the left and spicing it up with a cheeky hand off on the face of his chaser, touching down Kenya’s second try. He went on to convert as Kenya rose 14-7 up.
However, the turning point of the match came in when Ambaka intercepted a pass from Bibby to Norton few meters from the try line. The ref awarded a penalty try for the hosts taking the game back tied at 14-14 while Ambaka was sent to the sin bin.
England took advantage of the numerical advantage and Dan Norton touched down for his 238th career try which put him just four short of Injera who is the all-time leading try scorer.
With the English leading 21-14, they were more confident and Bibby finished off the job with a try on the right though the referee had to consult the TMO after Injera had appeared to tackle him out of the pitch just before he dotted down.
Shujaa will now take on series leaders South Africa in their second match at 1:56am on Sunday and if they lose then they will be out of contention for a berth in the Cup Quarters. The final match will be against Chile at 5:14am and they will hope to win to contest in the Challenge Trophy.