NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 20 – Dennis Muhanji saved Kenya Simbas the blushes as the national 15s team was held to a 19-19 draw at home by visitors Hong Kong in one of the two international test matches played at the RFUEA Ground on Sunday.
Kenya, who were trailing a well oiled Hong Kong side 14-12 at half time, grounded three tries through captain of the day George Nyambua, Alex Olaba and Muhanji to leave the technical bench with a lot of work to do ahead of the second test match on Saturday next week at the same venue.
In the opening half dominated by Hong Kong, Kenya suffered a major blow when Nondescripts fly half Biko Adema limped off injured only three minutes after kick-off to be replaced by KCB’s Kenny Andola.
Kenya Simbas assistant coach Dominique Habimana admitted they have a lot of work to do ahead of the second test match, but heaped praise on the young side that saw most of the players make their full international test debut.
“We ended up with a draw, we would have liked to put an extra point for the win but we are contented with the result. We opted to give players who have had less play time a chance to showcase themselves and I am happy the young boys tried,” Habimana said after the match.
“The young boys had a stage fright but they have shown they can play rugby when they are settled. They just need to increase the composure and they will be fine. The forwards need a lot of work to do to get that extra half foot when the scrum is set. But they will get there we are going to work on getting the front foot,” the assistant coach added.
Hong Kong skipper Jamie Tsang was disappointed with the result but vowed to comeback stronger on Saturday next week when the last test match will take place at the same venue.
“We could have won this game but we switched off towards the end of the first half, and at some point in the second half. It’s not a result that we wanted but we are happy the way we played bearing in mind Kenya is at home and have a strong team.”
“We should keep up and the win will come on our way, we are disappointed we did not win the game. We will approach the second game the same way… start on a high and be dangerous in the opening half,” the captain added.
The visitors, who pinned Kenya on their half, saw their pressure bear fruits when Jack Parfitt dotted down a converted try to open the scoring in the eight minute.
With Kenya committing school boy errors, Hong Kong punished them, doubling the scores when Liam Slatem went over with a brilliant try that was converted to give his side a 14-0 lead.
Kenya pulled one back from a push try in the 22nd minute from Nyambua who was the only one in the squad from the team that played in the Gold Cup campaign away to Zimbabwe and Namibia.
A speedy Hong Kong side was very accurate in their swing passed forcing Patrice Agunda to be send to the sin bin for a high tackle, leaving Kenya one man down.
However, playing in his international full debut, youngster Olaba burst from the left to touch the whitewash on the stroke of half time but Andola missed the conversation to see Kenya lag two points behind at the breather.
Hong Kong started on a high, extending the lead from the left flank nine minutes in the second half thanks to a Slatem converted try that saw him complete a brace for a 19-12 scoreline.
Even with the introduction of experienced Samson Onsomu for Lyle Asiligwa, Kenya could not match Hong Kong’s performance, squandering a penalty that could have levelled matters.
Muhanji saved Kenya the blushes when he went over in the 65th minute for Andola to successfully convert.