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England claim Sevens crown with win over Kenya

Published: 3:51PM Saturday February 02, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

Crowd favourites Kenya may have won the hearts of the Westpac Stadium crowd but it was England who claimed the Wellington Sevens title with a thrilling 24-19 win in tonight's final.

The win handed England their second Wellington title, following on from their success in 2009, and provided a fitting end to what was one of the closest and most competitive tournaments in recent memory.

Having extinguished New Zealand's hopes of claiming back-to-back Wellington titles with a stunning 19-14 quarter-final win, many wondered if Kenya had enough left in the tank to go on to win the biggest match of the weekend, and the biggest of their fledging rugby history.

It took just 50 seconds for England to work their way up field and into scoring position, chief playmaker Matt Turner sliding across field before turning it inside for Dan Norton to speed away under the sticks, the conversion giving them a 7-0 lead.

After some hard grafting work from England's big men, Kenya over-committed to the breakdown, leaving space out wide for Christian Lewis-Pratt run in the second try in the third minute.

Kenya then hit back with big Horace Otieno brushing off three tackles to dive over the chalk and narrow the margin to five, to the delight of the fiercely one-eyed Cake Tin crowd.

Oscar Ouma provided the play of the match, turning over the ball when England was building nicely, Biko Adema then outflanked the cover to speed 45 metres for the leveller, two minutes from the break.

Willy Ambaka then showed power and a nice dummy to get past England's Turner, the conversion seeing them go to the break ahead 19-12 and carrying all the momentum.

In the second-half, Kenya used direct, powerful running to force England into making tackles and controlled the ball well to limit their chances on attack. England, with one eye on the scoreboard, was clearly rattled and mistakes began creeping into their play.

Marcus Watson kept England's hopes alive with a try-saving tackle when Kenya's Collins Injera looked bound for his sides fourth try with a quarter of the match still remaining.

Kenya then defended like their lives depended on it, yet Andrew Amonde's cynical play saw him sent to the bin for two minutes. Even with the numerical advantage, England was unable to capitalise.

Kenya twice cut England down short of the line with less than two minutes remaining, before hard-running Tom Powell had the ball dislodged in a tackle as he loomed over the try-line.

With the match running into overtime, Lewis-Pratt eventually darted across from close range to see England trail 17-19, the successful conversion ensuring the match would go to extra-time.

Both sides had some attacking chances upon the resumption of play, Kenya clinging on bravely, only to see England's Sam Edgerley scamper across for the clincher after two minutes.

All Blacks take third

Earlier, New Zealand had to be content with their third place tournament finish after getting past Samoa 17-7 in their play-off game.

Belgium Tuatagaloa opened the scoring in the fourth minute with the only try of a tense and tough first half that saw both sides defend for long periods, however, as they had done all weekend, basic errors again hampered New Zealand's efforts on attack.

The Kiwis took the 5-0 lead into the break but looked cagey upon the restart as Samoa looked to up the tempo and climb into the match.

Two minutes after the break, Gillies Kaka showed his worth when he skipped outside one defender and then put down the pedal to speed away from two more to score in the corner to double their lead.

Samoa hit back two minutes later when Reupena Levasa busted the line and ran 20 metres in under the sticks, the successful conversion leaving them just three points adrift  with two minutes left.

A big ball out wide from Rocky Khan then gave Kaka an easy passage to get his second of the day. The youngster sealed the result with a conversion for New Zealand in the dying seconds.

New Zealand had looked formidable when they began day two with a 24-5 quarter-final over Australia.

But their title defence came to a screeching halt, when Kenya bounced back from being down 14-7 at half-time, to stun the tournament hosts 19-14 in extra time.

In the other finals games tonight, Wales edged out Tonga 26-21 in the Shield final, while Australia claimed the Plate title with a 22-7 win over Scotland.

England 24 (Dan Norton, Sam Edgerley, Christian Lewis-Pratt 2 tries; Lewis-Pratt 2 cons)

Kenya 19 (Oscar Ouma, Horace Otieno, Willy Ambaka tries; Andrew Amonde 2 cons)