HSBC Singapore Rugby 7s

Rugby: Kenya, England find it tough

Samoa's Gordon Langkilde (centre, with ball) evades the challenge of the Kenya defence to score a try at the match between Kenya and Samoa at the Singapore Rugby Sevens at the Singapore Sports Hub on April 15, 2017.
Samoa's Gordon Langkilde (centre, with ball) evades the challenge of the Kenya defence to score a try at the match between Kenya and Samoa at the Singapore Rugby Sevens at the Singapore Sports Hub on April 15, 2017. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Title holders take on Amor's men today hoping to reach first semi-final this term

Defending HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens champions Kenya survived a scare yesterday in their quest to retain their title.

Having won their opener against Argentina 22-7 at the National Stadium, they then lost to Australia 7-29, but bounced back in their final pool match of the day with a 17-7 effort over Samoa.

Despite finishing second in Pool C behind Australia, Kenya captain Andrew Amonde was relieved his side reached the Cup quarter-finals.

"We have struggled the whole season to get into the quarter-finals," said the 33-year-old. "We were hoping to make it through and we did, and we will build on that tomorrow."

Kenya's best performance in this season's Sevens World Series so far is a sixth-place finish at the Dec 10-11 Cape Town leg.

Seven of the 13-strong squad did not feature in the Kenya side that won their first Cup here last year, but Amonde believes the rookies have adapted well since the beginning of the season.

  • REMAINING FIXTURES

  • CUP QUARTER-FINALS

    12.30pm: Fiji v USA
    12.52pm: Australia v South Africa
    1.14pm: New Zealand v Canada
    1.36pm: England v Kenya

  • 5.10pm: Semi-final 1
    5.32pm: Semi-final 2
    8.20pm: Final

"They scored well when they needed to today and when we were down, we kept on fighting," he said.

England, winners of the Cape Town and Vancouver legs in this series, also overcame a bad start to reach the quarter-finals.

Simon Amor's men lost 14-24 to France in their first match, but regrouped to beat Japan (40-10) and series leaders South Africa (17-12), with England's Dan Norton extending his all-time try record to 248.

England still topped Pool B after Japan stunned France 21-14.

Said England winger Callum Sirker: "We wanted to make England proud and we didn't do that this morning (in the loss to France), so we just reset and went back to the drawing board. We understood that we made our mistakes, and as a team we just went back out and fought for one another."

England and Kenya will face each other in the fourth Cup quarter-final match today.

Added Sirker: "We want to go as far as we can and we believe in ourselves, so we'll see how it goes."

Kenya will be banking on their successful history here.

Said Amonde: "I think Singapore has become a very good hunting ground for us because we acclimatise very fast, with the atmosphere here being close to home.

"This is an excellent team that can pick up from where they left off very easily, and I expect them to do the same tomorrow."

Canada, the United States, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia complete the last eight.

SINGAPORE SEVENS

Q-finals (10.45am), s-finals (2.30pm), finals (6.45pm) - StarHub TV Ch112/205 & 76.25MHz

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Kenya & England find it tough'. Print Edition | Subscribe