NAIROBI, August 5 – Kenya’s exit from the Africa Zone 2011 Rugby World Cup qualifiers left the gates wide open for ever-improving Uganda who are through to the next round after beating Madagascar 32-22 in Kampala in a Pool D tie.,
Tunisia beat Kenya 44-15 in Tunis in Pool C.
Uganda survived early pressure from Madagascar’s “Makii” side in what was a repeat of the Africa Cup final last year which Uganda won 42-11 in Antananarivo.
Namibian referee Jacky Hussleman flashed four yellow cards – three to Madagascar players – as the match threatened to get out of control. Uganda left winger Felix Lubega was the victim of a foul play by his opposite number Jacquot Harinirina who was lucky to escape with a yellow card. Lubega got a nasty knock and will be out for a while.
The Ugandan had started threatening from the seventh minute when he powered his way through the Madagascar backs after a good exchange with scrum-half Anthony Kinene and fly-half Edmond Tumusiime. He was fouled in the 23 and Kinene knocked over the resultant penalty.
Three minutes later, Madagascar’s Jose Rakoto Harrison missed a drop goal attempt. He made another unsuccessful attempt in the 13th minute as the Makiis took control of the game in the forwards where they were beaten hands down by Uganda last year.
Harrison was always the live wire in the Madagascar backs and often weaved his way through the Uganda backs at will spreading the passes to fleet-footed winger Alain Rakotonirina who combined well with his two centres Bienvem Mananjarasoa and his captain Noe-Mboazafy Rakotoarivelo.
Eight minutes before the end of this half, a good drive by the forwards saw Kinene pop the ball on the blind for Lubega to score the first try for Uganda. Kinene converted from the touchline, redeeming himself after missing two kickable penalties. On the stroke of half time, Harrison put over a penalty for Madagascar who trailed by just four points at half time.
Rakotoarimanana came from the ‘sin-bin’ to score two tries and bring the game within reach for Madagascar who trailed by three points. But, super substitute Steven Ogwete called the shots with a try in the 32nd minute. Kinene converted before being rested for Philip Karumuna.
Madagascar coach Camille Ratsima said Uganda raised the intensity in the second half which assured them of the win. “We did well in the first half and held on in the forwards where they had a big advantage. I am satisfied because the score does not reflect the real situation on the pitch.
David Dobela, Uganda Rugby Football Union technical director, says discipline and character won the day. “I was surprised they were able to hold us in the forwards,” the South African said. He has one word for the players and that is to hit the gym.
Cote d’Ivoire upset Morocco 21-9 away in Casablanca to qualify while Namibia edged out Zimbabwe 35-21 to sail into the semis.