Kenya Eyes Las Vegas Cup Glory

Kenya celebrate after defeating Wales to win the Bowl final at the Rugby Sevens tournament in Wellington on February 4, 2012

After securing a morale boosting Bowl victory at Wellington Sevens on Saturday, Kenya will be going flat out for main Cup performance at Las Vegas next weekend.

Kenya, who for the second time downed Australia 12-7 in the tight Bowl final, are up against Wellington bronze medallists England as well as Scotland, whom they outclassed 17-7 in Bowl quarter-final. Others in Pool D are minnows Brazil in the Las Vegas leg of the IRB circuit.

Speedster Collins Injera, who topped the Wellington try scorer’s chart with seven tries, said: “It feels quite well to come back on day two strongly. We really needed this win after we faltered slightly on day one to miss the main Cup.

“It’s a morale boost going to Las Vegas where we have the largest following. The pool might sound easy, against Scotland and Brazil, but we will not leave anything to chance.”

Day two unbeaten run

Injera and his elder brother, former captain Humphrey Kayange, scored in the final to maintain Kenya’s day two unbeaten run and earn eight Series points, their best show this season.

They also rose one place to 14th, with 13 points behind leaders New Zealand who reclaimed the top spot after they downed Fiji 24-7 in a pulsating main Cup final.

The triumph gave New Zealand a clear lead in the series with 73 points, ahead of Fiji on 70 with five rounds remaining after both sides went into the tournament as co-leaders on 51.

“It’s good to be back and inspire some of the youngsters in the team,” said Injera, who missed the three opening events – in Gold Coast, Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

Earlier, Kenya beat Wales 17-7 with captain Sidney Ashioya and Leon Adongo scoring a try each. Ashioya had inspired the side to victory in the quarter-final against Scotland where he crossed the line once before Injera made a similar feat. Australia booked their place in the final with a 24-12 victory over Argentina.

New Zealand, who were defending their home title, took five minutes to get their first points on the board but thereafter they never looked like losing.

After finding the Fijian defence impenetrable in the opening stages, Tomasi Cama set the game alight with a delicate chip kick which Tim Mikkelson latched on to and took play up to the line, where DJ Forbes finished the move.

Frank Halai then scored twice and Cama touched down on the stroke of half-time to give New Zealand a solid 24-0 lead at the turn.

The loss of the inspirational captain Forbes with a cheek injury saw New Zealand take a more defensive role in the second half and they were able to hold Fiji out until the final minute when Waisea Nayacalevu scored.

Coach Gordon Tietjens said it was New Zealand’s defensive effort that made the difference.

“Our defence was outstanding. We turned it into a lot of pressure and forced them into mistakes,” said Tietjens who sees New Zealand on track to claim a remarkable 10th world crown in the 13-year history of the tournament.

“We’ve been in four tournaments (in this series), won a couple of finals and beaten in another so consistency is right up there and we’ve got to keep that now,” he said.

It had earlier looked as if tournament favourites New Zealand would not make the Wellington final when they were 0-12 down at half-time in their semi-final against England who had put Tonga out in the quarter-finals 26-7.

But a try to Charlie Piutau and one to Hosea Gear, when England were reduced to six men with James Rodwell in the sin bin, levelled the score at 12-12 and Halai settled the outcome with a try 86 seconds into extra time.

Fiji, surprisingly beaten by Tonga in pool play, had to come from behind to beat South Africa in the quarter-final.

They trailed 0-5 early in the second half before finding form with tries to Nemani Negusa, Osea Kolinisau and Emosi Vucago in a late scoring burst for a 21-5 win, which they followed with a 28-5 semi-final demolition of Samoa.

In the play off for third, a late try by Isoa Damu sealed a 21-12 win for England over Samoa.

England are now third on the points table with 64, ahead of South Africa on 61 and France on 49.

The fifth leg of the series will be played in Las Vegas next weekend.

Source: Daily Nation

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