Kenya Sevens ease past Russia to storm Cup quarters
William “Lomu” Ambaka celebrated his 26th birthday in style, touching down a brace of tries as Kenya dismantled Russia 22-7 to ease through to the Paris Sevens Cup quarter-finals at Stade Jean-Bouin on Saturday.
Samuel Oliech and Humphrey Kayange scored the other two tries for Singapore Sevens champions who led 12-0 at the break.
Kenya Sevens started their campaign for second title strongly on Friday when the history-chasing Collins Injera landed a brace of tries to tame Portugal 29-14 in the Pool “A” match.
(READ: Kenya Sevens trounce Portugal in Paris)
They are due to meet New Zealand in perhaps what will determined the pool winner at 3.03pm Saturday. All Blacks, who are Wellington, Sydney and Canada Sevens champions, beat Russian 35-10 on Friday and Portugal 31-0 to also make the Cup quarters.
Oliech drew first blood against the Russians when Injera put him through off a scrum as they extended the lead to 12-0 at the drinks when Oscar Ayodi broke before offloading to Ambaka to score.
Kenya went 17-0 up when Kayange offloaded to Ambaka from a tackle to land his second try, his third in Paris. German Davydov gave the Russians some glimpse of hope with a try but Kayange silenced them with a similar for victory.
Injera is now three tries of leading all-time try scorer Argentine Santiago Gomez, who has 230 tries. It’s left to be known whether he can achieve that feat against the All Blacks.
Kenya’s other tries against Portugal came from Oliech, William Ambaka and Humphrey Kayange. Injera and Oliech made a conversion each.
Portugal started strongly with tries Nuno Guedes converted his own try and Aderito Esteves’ for a 14-0 lead. Injera crossed the line but Oliech missed the conversion as Kenya trailed 5-14 at the break.
A good exchange between Ambaka and Injera saw Olich finish it off with a try but mossed the conversion to zero in at 10-14. Injera was to weave through at the middle to score and give Kenya the lead 17-14 before Ambaka and Kayange wrapped up the proceedings.
Kenya and Russia have met four times with the Kenyans winning thrice. Their first meeting as in Wellington where Kenya won 24-10 in the preliminaries before snatching a slim 24-21 victory in pool stage in Las Vegas.
The Russians would extract revenge, winning 24-7 in Shield final in Canada but the Kenyans would prove supreme in Singapore, beating Russia 21-7 in the preliminaries on their way to claiming their maiden victory in the Series, downing the giants Fiji 30-7 in the final.
Perhaps New Zealand will be Kenya’s main rival, having met thrice this season. All Blacks won 36-0 in Wellington but Kenya struck in Las Vegas, winning 22-0. Their last outing was a close contest where Kenya lost 5-0 in Hong Kong.
As the team savour the victory, team skipper Andrew Amonde said they will have to reinvent themselves and remain at the core as they head to the penultimate leg of the Series. “We really must show our worth by staying at the top of things and make the Cup quarters,” said Amonde.
Kenya are placed seventh in the Series with 85 points while New Zealand are third on 135. Russia and Japan tie at 14th with 21 points each followed by Portugal with 17.
Ben Ryan’s series-leading Fiji meet Samoa, Scotland and Wales in Pool “B” while South Africa, Australia, England and the invited team Brazil will compete in Pool “C.” Argentina await hosts France, USA and Canada in Pool “D.”