Rugby: England beats Kenya to win Wellington Sevens

By IndepthAfrica
In Kenya
Feb 2nd, 2013

Collins-Injera-Runs-130202G300(AP) -Sam Edgerley scored a try in extra time to give England a 24-19 win over Kenya on Saturday in the final of the Wellington Sevens, the fourth round of the International Rugby Board’s World Series.

England turned around a dismal season when it scored twice late in a tense final to deny Kenya its first ever victory in a World Series tournament.

Kenya, who shocked defending champion and World Series leader New Zealand to reach the final, rallied from 12-0 down during the first half to lead England 19-12 with time up on the clock.

But, reduced to only five men by two yellow cards, Kenya conceded a try to Christian Lewis-Platt which tied the scores on full time and was then denied by Edgerley’s match-winner in overtime.

The final set the seal on a tournament punctuated by massive upsets. England set the tone when it beat New Zealand, first-placed in the world standings, in the opening round of pool play on Friday.

New Zealand managed to rally with wins over Spain and the United States to reach Saturday’s quarterfinals of the top-tier Cup competition. But France and Fiji, respectively second and third in the world standings, both suffered two losses in pool play and were relegated to the consolation Bowl competition, Fiji for the first time in the 14-year history of the World Series.

Nor did Fiji’s woes stop there. It was beaten 28-19 by Canada in the Bowl final to leave Wellington without any silverware and with its worst-ever result on the world circuit.

Upsets continued throughout Saturday of the tournament and the season came when Kenya beat New Zealand 19-14 in the Cup semifinals, achieving its first-ever win over the world champions. England beat Samoa 21-19 to capture the other place in an unexpected final matchup.

England’s momentum continued when it scored early tries through Dan Norton and Lewis-Pratt to claim a 12-0 lead as Kenya struggled in the unfamiliar final atmosphere.

But Kenya settled, then rallied, scoring tries through veteran Horace Otieno and Oscar Ouma to tie the scores 12-12. Rising star Willy Ambaka then broke away to score an outstanding solo try in the final minute of the first half and to give Kenya a 19-12 lead at the turnaround.

That score persisted through a second half which was notable for stifling defenses and the obvious and growing fatigue of both teams.

Kenya was in sight of its first-ever tournament victory when its captain, Andrew Amonde was sin-binned for a professional foul, and Ouma followed Amonde only a minute later, leaving it with five men.

England couldn’t help but capitalize on that numerical advantage and Lewis-Pratt scored to tie the match at 19-19, forcing it into extra time.

Kenya still had only six men in extra time and England took advantage for a second time when Edgerley, in only his fourth World Series tournament, scored the winning try.

“That was incredible,” England captain Tom Powell said. “The atmosphere was incredible, the Kenyan team were incredible.

“The physical limits were pushed beyond today and it was amazing for the boys to come through like that after the year we’ve had. It just shows the determination and how we’ve pulled together as a team.”

New Zealand beat Samoa 17-7 to finish in third place and to retain its overall series lead ahead of next weekend’s fifth-round in Las Vegas.

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