NAIROBI, Kenya, June 10 – Darwin Mukidza displayed a man of the match performance as Kenya Simbas silenced hosts Uganda 18-23 in the first leg of the Elgon Cup in a pulsating match played at the Legends Rugby Club in Kampala on Saturday.
Mukidza, the captain of the day led from the front, converting three penalties to see Kenya head to the second leg that will be hosted at Nairobi’s RFUEA Grounds in a fortnight with a five point advantage.
Head coach Jerome Paarwater admitted that Uganda gave them a run of their money.
“I told the guys to make use of their chances in the second half. We knew it could get tough because Uganda is a strong team and they came out came out firing today. I think they will beat teams going forward,” the South African said.
Mukidza was pleased with the boys’ performance and thanked the fans who travelled all the way to Kampala to support them.
“We had to clear out our errors and be discipline in our defence. In the second half we tried to keep the ball more and that worked for us. We were anxious in the first half. We will go back home and work on our positives. I thank the fans for the support, we really did this for them and for those who came here we are really grateful,” Mukidza said after the match.
The defending champions started on a high with Mukidza converting a penalty just after the hosts missed theirs when Kabras Sugar player Philip Wokorach sailed his kick wide.
Uganda were downed to 14 men following Marvin Odong’s sin bin.
The Jerome Paarwater charges maximized on the advantage when Samson Onsomu dived over the chalk for Mukidza to convert as the Simbas took control of the proceedings 10-0.
However, Odong’ made the amends when he went over the line straight from the sin bin as Wokorach converted to reduce the deficit to two points.
Kenya had a chance to extend the lead but they squandered the penalty after opting to kick for touch in search of a try that went in vain.
It was Uganda who made good use of their penalty through danger man Wokorach who drilled it in to hand Uganda the lead for the first time in the hotly contested match.
Minutes later, Uganda backed by their vocal home fans opened an eight point lead when Ivan Magomu chipped over the Kenyan back line for James Odong’ to touch down as Wokorach ensured the two additional points were in the bag with his successful conversion as Uganda led 18-10.
The new half backs, Magomu and Ivan Kirabo combined perfectly for the hosts to increase the tempo of the game from the breakdowns.
Having trailed in the first period, Kenya returned on a high with KCB RFC’s Eighth-man Martin Owila touching down for Mukidza to convert and be within one point as the scores stood at 18-17.
Uganda responded through Odong’ with a strong pick from the scrum down but the Simbas defend their line. The hosts found themselves in more trouble when Brian Odong’ was penalised for not releasing the ball to give Kenya a chance to clear their lines.
The Simbas regained their lead thanks to Mukidza’s well drilled penalty before hammering the final nail in Uganda’s coffin when Aaron Ofoyrwoth was sent to the sin bin and Mukidza made no mistake from the resultant penalty to hand Kenya a 23-18 victory.