Kenya are on their way to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the rugby sevens event at the 2016 Olympic Games after a thrilling win over Zimbabwe in the final of the African regional qualifier in Johannesburg.
Dennis Ombachi popped up with a last minute try, just as Kenya looked dead and buried with time on the clock virtually finished, racing 65 metres and fending off a would-be tackler on his way to the line.
Captain Andrew Amonde scored Kenya's first points, touching down with Eden Agero converting for a 7-0 lead but the Cheetahs were never out of touch, taking the game to their more illustrious opponents, and scoring two tries and a conversion for a deserved 12-7 half-time lead.
It remained tense upon the restart, Zimbabwe looking the more potent side as they rattled Kenya at the breakdown.
Collins Injera scored and converted against the run of play to put Kenya 14-12 up but when Zimbabwe replied with third try and conversion, it seemed that the Olympic ticket would be theirs for the taking.
Kenya refused to give up on their dream though, and Ombachi, who scored a first-half hat-trick against Madagascar earlier in the day, produced his moment of magic to deny the Cheetahs and send his side through instead.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series core team Kenya had lived up to their tag as tournament favourites on day one, a combination of power and raw pace seeing them to three straight victories against Mauritius, Senegal and Madagascar, scoring 123 points with only five conceded.
Zimbabwe also showed their class with a series of solid performances, which earned them a 31-12 victory against Nigeria, a 48-0 win against Zambia and a 43-0 win against Uganda.
Namibia, meanwhile, kicked off their campaign with a 24-21 victory against Morocco, and then beat Botswana 33-0 and Tunisia 45-10.
In Sunday’s Cup quarter-finals, Kenya prevailed 41-0 against Madagascar and Zimbabwe beat Nigeria 29-10. Namibia, however, came unstuck after losing 22-15 to Morocco. Tunisia edged Uganda 19-14 in the other quarter-final to book a semi-final meeting with Kenya.
Frank Wanyama capped a fine performance with two tries as Kenya easily disposed of Tunisia 42-12 while Zimbabwe accounted for Morocco in the other semi..
Morocco bounced back to beat Tunisia in the third place play-off with both sides going forward to join runners-up Zimbabwe in competing at next year’s World Rugby global Olympic repechage tournament.
Africa Olympic Sevens Qualifier play-off results
11/12th: Zambia 14-26 Botswana 26
9/10th: Mauritius 40-5 Senegal
7/8th: Uganda 27-7 Nigeria
5/6th Namibia 24-17 Madagascar
3/4th: Morocco 19-12 Tunisia
Final: Kenya 21-17 Zimbabwe
Visit the Rugby Africa website for all the results from the two days of action in Johannesburg.
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