The Star (Nairobi)

8 December 2012

Kenya: Sharp Kenya Seek to Keep Momentum

Kenya face a three pronged tricky assignment when the third leg of the HSBC World rugby Sevens series kicka off in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, this weekend.

Drawn as pool leaders, Kenya face three very unpredictable pool opponents without three key players and will only have had three days of training to blend the replacements.

Drawn in Group "C", Kenya are pooled together with the very unpredictable Spain, Argentina and Wales and will be without regulars Biko Adema, 25, Collins Injera ,26, and Oscar Ouma ,23, who are all back in Nairobi due to personal commitments.

Also out with a hamstring injury is very experienced Sydney Ashioya, 27. Ashioya had just returned to the team, after a six month hiatus, occasioned by injury.

Replacing them are new caps Fabian Olando, Oscar Ayodi and Billy Odhiambo of KCB, Home Boyz and Strathmore respectively.

With an impressive 32 points from the first two legs in Australia and Dubai, where Kenya made both Cup semis and lost out both times to New Zealand.

Kenya's ability to maintain the same tempo, will undoubtedly come under its sternest test this weekend.

Now lying in second place on 32 series points, the same as Samoa and Fiji, Kenya would undoubtedly like to go into the six weeks break before the New Zealand and USA legs as second or, at worst, third on the points table.

To achieve this Kenya have to get into the main cup semis for the third time, which will guarantees 15 points.

In theory, Kenya are capable of dispatching their three pool opponents.

However a quick look into how Spain, Wales and Argentine fared in Dubai, would strongly suggest Kenya can underestimate them at their own peril.

Spain are perceived to be the weakest and are on 10 points. Kenya have met them twice this season, prevailing 26-12 in Australia and 10-7 in Dubai. They were losing Shield finalists in Dubai falling 5-26 to England.

Wales are on 18 and placed eighth on the 16 team table. They beat Canada 21-14 in the Dubai Plate final. Kenya have not faced them this season, but they did post impressive results in Dubai against three big guns. They lost 14-7 to NewZealand and 19-7 to Samoa and dumped out series leaders Fiji 27-5 in the Plate semis.

Argentina. Lie one place ahead of Wales with 21 points. Kenya have not played Argentina this season and meet them first in Port Elizabeth. The result will probably define the Kenyan run in the leg.

In Dubai Argentina lost two out of three pool games, 14-7 to Wales and 17-7 to New Zealand. Thereafter they went all the way to lifting the Bowl, and getting eight series points. They beat South Africa 14-10 in the Bowl final anddismantled England 27-14 in the quarters.

Kenya have thus far performed superbly. Of the 12 matches played they have drawn one 14-14 against England, and lost twice to New Zealand and once each to Fiji, Samoa and South Africa.

The six wins have been against Australia, Scotland, Canada, France and twice against Spain. After the pool games in South Africa, Kenya will have played 12 of the 16 nations in this years series.

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