NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – Virimi Vakatawa grounded a determining try as hosts France produced a magnificent came back to beat Kenya 20-14 in the opening match of Group C at the penultimate round of the 2016/17 HSBC Sevens World Series in Paris on Saturday.
Kenya started on a high with two converted try from Frank Wanyama and Billy ‘The Kid’ Odhiambo seeing Shujaa control the first half, leading 14-5 at the break after Julien Candelon rolled back the years to pull one back from Les Bleus.
It was an exhausting opening seven minutes with full-on French pressure, but Shujaa quietened the home crowd with a super score against the run of play when Wanyama cut inside and used the hand-off to surge to the line for Samuel Oliech to whip over the extra two points.
Just as Candelon thought he had put back the host in the game, Odhiambo took advantage of some tired defensive legs to power over.
Kenya lost their heads in the second half to grant France advantage with Oliech sent to the sin-bin. France immediately maximized the advantage when Jean Pascal Barraque reduced the deficit to one point.
The fans were treated to an absolute moment of magic from Vakatawa when he sent a beauty of an offload out of the back of his hand and roared back up the field with a great supporting line to land the match-defining try.
Kenya will now face Spain 4:38pm before wrapping their pool fixture with a tough match against England at 8:26pm.