After approximately an 18 month-wait, the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is back up and running again and the action on day one of the Vancouver Sevens did not disappoint.
Kenya 7s progress to the Quarter Finals at Vancouver, Canada
Kenya won 2 matches but lost 1 at the group stage.
Kenya, South Africa, Ireland, USA, Great Britain, Canada, Hong Kong and Spain have made it through to the Cup quarter-finals and are still in contention for the 20 World Series points that come with winning the Vancouver title.
As the only teams involved in this years’ competition to have featured in a Vancouver final before, South Africa and Kenya were favourites to contest the top spot in Pool A, and that proved to be the case.
Kenya vs Spain
Shujaa, the 2018 Vancouver sevens runners-up, got going with a 17-5 win over Spain. A cagey period was witnessed in the opening half with the first tries of the match coming towards the end of the half.
Shujaa broke the deadlock after four minutes of play when Alvin Otieno fend off his two markers to score Kenya's opening try.
The boys doubled the lead at the stroke of halftime with Willy Ambaka beating his marker on the left wing to score at the second try which changed the scores to 10-0 after a missed conversion.
On return from the break, Spain seemed rejuvenated and they breached Kenya’s defence to score through Andres Arnau after a beautiful build-up. It was his last action in the match as he limped off after scoring the try.
Harold Anduvate sealed Kenya’s victory with a try at the last seconds of the game. The try was converted by Daniel Taabu for a 17-5 win.
Kenya vs Mexico
Kenya 7s first try came after two minutes of play when Herman Humwa offloaded the ball to debutant Levy Amunga. Amunga forced his way over the try line to touch down and rose to convert his own try for a 7-0 lead.
The second try came from captain Nelson Oyoo who rounded his marker on the right-wing to land a try that was converted for a 14-0 lead.
Alvin Otieno picked up the ball from the ruck in Mexico’s territory and raced on to score Kenya’s third try that was converted for a 21-0 lead.
The fourth try came from Willy Ambaka who benefited from quick offloads by Humwa and Daniel Taabu and had a break on the left side where he accelerated to score a converted try for a 28-0 lead at the break.
From the break, Kenya picked from where they left. Taabu set up debutant Derrick Keyoga for a try that extended Shujaa’s lead.
José Velasco Pons pulled back for Mexico but Kenya continued to build the scoreboard.
Mark Kwemoi raced into Mexico’s territory before releasing supporting debutant Timothy Mmasi. Mmasi sprinted to the try-line to open his account.
Alvin Marube also got his name on the scoresheet with the final try that saw Kenya win 45-5.
Kenya vs South Africa
SA had a strong start scoring 28 points following four converted tries and added one more in the second half.
Kenya started on the wrong footing with South Africa quickly scoring through Muller du Plessis and his try was converted for a 7-0 lead.
Dewald Human then quickly set up Zains Davids with a grubber kick but the speedster slipped as he collected the ball.
He was forced to offload to supporting Ryan Oosthuizen who landed the second converted try.
Kenya conceded a yellow card as Willy Ambaka was sent off for an intentional tap. From the penalty, Human ran across before setting up Ronald Brown for the third converted try.
Brown returned to the scoresheet when Kenya’s Levy Amunga was unable to field the ball from the kick-off. By halftime, SA had 28 unanswered points.
Kenya pulled back in the second half when Jeff Oluoch offloaded to Daniel Taabu. Taabu produced a clean pair of heels to reach SA’s try box.
He then passed the ball to Alvin Otieno for the third try of the tournament and the first of the game for Shujaa.
At the other end, JC Pretorius scored a try that took the scores to 33 for SA.
Shujaa scored the final try of the match with Ambaka producing a big carry on the left wing and offloaded to supporting Alvin Marube, the debutant paced on to score a try that was converted for 14 points.
Kenya’s efforts to trim the gap was cut short when Ambaka stopped on the left side on his way to the try-line.
Kenya will battle it out against USA in the second quarter final of the day at exactly 07:20pm local time.
In the quarter-final head-to-head between the teams, USA lead 3-1. USA lost all three Cup quarter-finals they played in last season but won all 10 the previous year.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s only previous Cup quarter-final at BC Place came against England in 2018 when they won 12-0.