Kenya Sevens turned on style, beating Samoa and Canada before drawing with United States to ease through to the Cup quarterfinals of New Zealand Sevens in Hamilton on Saturday morning.
Kenya Sevens squandered their breathtaking 19-0 lead at the break to draw USA 19-19 to top Pool “D”.
The Kenyans had in their two opening matches claimed identical 19-14 victories against Samoa and Canada respectively for their clean run in the pool.
It was the first time Kenya is emerging unbeaten in the pool stage since USA Sevens during the 2015-2016 season.
Innocent Simiyu charges took to a flying start, when Nelson Oyoo and Jeffrey Oluoch landed before Samuel Oliech converted one to led 12-0.
Has Kenya Sevens finally regained its groove? That was the question as William “Lomu” Ambaka blasted through, evading some tackles to put his side 19-0 up after Oliech missed to convert.
Then Perry Baker gave USA a glimmer of hope with a try that Folau Niua converted to see them trail 19-7 at the break.
The second session proved tense with USA launching lethal attacks. Regarded as one of the fastest players in the Series, Carlin Isles ran the length of the field with the ball in his hand, zooming past the Kenyans to score.
Isles would complete his brace as Niua converted to level 19-19 at full time as Kenyans rued the missed conversions.
However, that failed to spur a distraught USA, who missed out on the Cup quarterfinals at the expense of Samoa, who sailed through along Kenya. Samoa had beaten USA and Canada 14-10 and 24-14 respectively.
"I was nervous because they had good speed and players out wide but I believe in them and they took it up a level," said Simiyu.
Tries from Ambaka and skipper Oscar Ouma gave Kenya a 12-0 lead at the break against the Canadians after Oliech missed one conversion.
The Canadians seemed to turn things road in the second half with Isaac Kaay's two tries putting them ahead 14-12 after Nathan Hirayama added the extras.
The Kenyans ploughed back as Olouch chalked the winning try that Oliech converted for their second victory of the day after downing Samoa.
Tea Mealoi converted Joel Perez’s try to give Samoa a 7-0 lead before the Kenyans turned on the screws to score through Ouma and Oyoo. Oliech made one conversion as Kenya led 12-7 at the break.
Oliech converted his own try to stretch the lead 19-7 but Mealoi converted Murphy Paulo try but all was in vain as Kenya hanged on to win.