NAIROBI, Kenya, July 30- A resilient Kenya Simbas reclaimed the Elgon Cup after seeing off Uganda 45-24 in the return leg played at the Kenya Rugby Football Union Ground on Saturday.
Carrying a 48-10 result from the first-leg, and enjoying a big support at home, the Simbas were confident from kick-off and within four minutes of the start, they had grounded the first try.
Ronnie Mwenesi, making his first start in over a year after being out with injury touched down on the right with Darwin Mukidza converting for a 7-0 lead by Kenya.
Mukidza was an initial doubt and hadn’t been named for the match due to injury but he was included in the last minute in place of Ian Minjire who will have to wait longer for his Kenya 15s debut.
The hosts kept the good run on and David Ambunya made it 12-0 after picking up the ball from Curtis Lilako but Mukidza’s conversion went wide.
However, slumber at the back saw Uganda go ahead for the first time in the match with two converted tries.
Fly half Ivan Magomu touched down on the right after getting the ball from Michael Okorach who kicked and chased on the right using his speed to go past Kenya’s defense.
The visitors used the same tact to pull into the lead, this time Okoorach going all out himself, kicking and chasing on the right before evading tackles from the Kenyan backline to touch down for a 14-12 Uganda lead.
But Kenya managed to move back into the lead, this time Mukidza hitting between the posts from a penalty just outside the 22.
Uganda seemed more confident and played with a bit more urgency. They came close to punishing Kenya again for some defensive lapse but a last gasp tackle pushed Philip Wokorach off just few metres off the try line.
However, the Uganda Rugby Cranes won back the ball and managed to touch down after a push near the try line as Marvin Odongo had the final say.
Uganda hooker Syrus Watum was sent to the sin bin allowing Kenya more space to push and they managed to narrow the score to a point with Mukidza scoring his second penalty to take the game to 19-18.
The Simba should have pulled back into the lead but Mukidza knocked on the ball after good break from veteran Nato Simiyu. Kenya won back possession just inside the 22 and another push and surge to the try line saw Sammy Warui touchdown to give Kenya a 23-19 score heading to the break.
At the start of the second half, head coach Jerome Paarwater changed his forward line with Peter Karia and James Kang’ethe coming in.
Mukidza then completed his hatrick of penalties after a Uganda infringement to take Kenya’s score to 26-19.
Skipper Brian Nyikuli then touched down on the left as Mukidza converted, stretching Kenya’s lead to 33-19.
Uganda all this time were pinned in their own half with Kenya having picked a grip of the game, but the visitors broke with danger man Wokarach touching down to reduce the deficit to 33-24.
Even though Simon Muniafu dotted home a converted try, Kenya got into a comfortable 40-24 lead. Max Adaka who had come on in the second half kept the tries coming, grounding on the left to seal the win.