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Kenya eyes Moscow's rugby sevens World Cup win

13 May 2013, 18:57 John Kwoba

Nairobi - Kenya rugby sevens team is on a journey to conquer its opponents and the World Cup in Moscow in July will be a realistic stage to gauge its growth level.

Head coach Mike Friday, speaking on the sidelines of the team's great run at the London leg of the International Rugby Board (IRB) World Series, said it is difficult to gauge the team's ability over one season.

However, after seeing Kenya clinch the fourth spot in London, and fifth in the standing after the nine-leg series, Friday said the World Cup in Moscow will be ideal for the country to finally climb to the top of the world.

"We have had a fantastic tournament here in London. The team has a sense of passion, they play their hearts out and want to do what is best to uplift each other and the team," said Friday.

"Today we played a great game, we played two and half games against Fiji and New Zealand. This shows where we are heading, where we want to be. Of course there are errors, which, a team like New Zealand, capitalised on to punish us. But this is a team on a journey, we are learning in each aspect we are preparing something special, something that will rein for long."

Kenya wound up fourth in London taking 15 points behind winners New Zealand, Australia and England. This brings Kenya's point tally to 99 after the conclusion of the series.

Coach Friday had at the start of the World Series set a 100 point mark for his team in November last year. He missed the mark by just a point, but kept the country in its best ever ranking since the tournament was started in 1999.

Kenya is fifth in the overall standing with 99 points, behind winners New Zealand on 173, South Africa 132, Fiji 121 and Samoa 104.

The Kenya National Sevens team will come back home with their heads held high after making a good account of themselves in the just concluded London leg of the International Rugby Board Sevens circuit.

Asked if this was the strongest squad that Kenya has ever produced, Friday said he was not certain.

"I am not sure if this is the best team ever for Kenya. Of course we have Humphrey Kayange back in the team, he is a pillar and the one that his colleagues wrap around in major games. There are other young players coming through the ranks and have impressed in the series.

"Of course the team is not perfect and we are working on our mistakes and the work is progressive and soon in Moscow we will be able to evaluate where we have come so far," said Friday.

Alongside the World Cup, there is the 2016 Olympic Games, which Kenya intends to participate and then the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in 2014.

That is all long term. But Friday can sit back and relax after pulling out a great show in London and the whole circuit.

After registering two vital victories on the first day of the tournament against Wales and Canada, Kenya continued with their great form by beating Fiji 20-7 in the Main Cup competition during the quarterfinals level.

It was a befitting performance and show that broke the jinx as it was the first time Kenya ever beat Fiji in the IRB sevens circuit since its inception in 1999.

Prior to Sunday defeat Kenya had only beaten Fiji in the Sevens Rugby World Cup, but now they have broken the 14 year jinx.

Arguably one of the best performances by the team in recent years, Kenya dominated possession against the Fijians and scored four tries through Oscar Ouma, who scored a brace, Willy Ambaka and Humphrey Kayange, who scored a try each.

This victory meant Kenya qualified for the Main Cup semi finals, where they were to meet the reining champions New Zealand.

All Blacks had already humiliated Kenya on the first day of the tournament in the group stages and Kenya were anxious to make things right, especially now that the stakes were higher.

Having beaten Argentina 52-7 in the quarterfinals, New Zealand were beaming with confidence, they succeeded to beat Kenya 7-0 to make the finals.

New Zealand ended the season on a high, beating Australia 47-12 in the final of the 2013 Marriott London Sevens.

In winning their second Cup title of the season New Zealand lifted their 11th World Series title in 14 years and their first London Sevens title since 2007 at Twickenham with Tim Mikkelson ending an impressive season with two tries and a selfless assist for Warwick Lahmert with the win secured.

Hosts England finished third for the second successive tournament after beating Kenya 26-19 despite a hat-trick from William Ambaka, with Dan Norton ending the London Sevens with 10 tries to finish the Series as the leading try and points scorer.

At the end of the Series, New Zealand finished top in the overall standings with 173 points ahead of South Africa (132), Fiji (121) and Samoa (104).

Having reached five Cup semi finals across the season Mike Friday's Kenya (99) ended fifth with the hosts England sixth (92).

In the qualifying tournament, Scotland, Spain and Portugal all re-qualified to ensure they play on all nine rounds of the 2013/14 Series. Spain and Scotland won their respective semi finals in the core team qualifying competition to confirm their place as a core side on the Sevens World Series.

Spain became the first side to join the top 12 sides after Carlos Blanco scored the winning try in an enthralling match to beat their Iberian neighbours Portugal 10-5 before Scotland proved too strong for Russia winning 19-0.

The two winning semi finalists knew a victory would ensure they played at all nine rounds on the next Series, while the losing semi finalists now meet in a play-off for the third and final spot, meaning Portugal now face Russia for the final spot.

- Xinhua


WRAP: English Premiership

21 October 2016, 19:13

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