NAIROBI, May 30 – Kenya ran the rule over fancied Portugal, blanking the visiting Europeans 41-15 in an international Test match played at Nairobi’s RFUEA Grounds on Saturday.
Simba flooded the Portuguese whitewash with five tries from Darwin Mukisza, Kelvin Omiyo, skipper Brian Nyikuli, Sammy Oliech and Robert Aringo as the Iberians who started eight from the French top flight left the pitch stunned.
Kenya will jump up from their 32nd IRB rankings as head coach Jerome Paarwater ranked the win as big motivation ahead of their Africa Cup opener against Zimbabwe on June 13 in Harare.
“I’m very disappointed because in the first-half we had created a lot of opportunities but failed to utilize, we should have scored about seven tries so we need to work on our finishing.
“Portugal has strong backs but we managed to contain them. They gave us a good warm up and I’m positive of beating Zimbabwe,” Paarwater stated after the win.
His opposite number, Henrique Coelho said they expected a tough encounter since Kenya has improved in the longer version of the game.
“Kenya produced a great game; we missed too many tackles and allow them to score. We were good in the line-out and scrums but lost some possession in the contacts. I told my players not to give them ball in space because they are fast, good at the back and are very strong in contact.”
Kenya began on a high, grounding two tries and a drop goal in the first-half to surprise Portugal who only managed to get into the hosts half at the half hour mark.
KCB’s Mukidza set the tone for the Simba who played a fast game to pile pressure on the visitor’s try-line, when he was set up by Isaac Adimo to touch down on the left as Lyle Asilibwa converted for a 7-0 lead.
The hosts had a chance to extend the lead when Portugal conceded a penalty, but Mukidza’s boot couldn’t go through the sticks.
That gave Kenya more urgency to double the lead, this time doing it in style with a brilliant build from Jacob Ojee, Fabian Olando and Asiligwa who exchanged passes before switching Omiyo who charged to slide on the right as Mukidza converted for 14-0.
Paarwater charges were punished from their own mistake after conceding a penalty that gave that visitors chance to come back with Cyrille Andre receiving a pass from the line-out to pull one back.
Portugal reduced the deficit to four after Yannic Ricardo scored from the penalty but Mukidza extended the lead from a drop kick on the half-time hooter for 17-10 lead.
Simba resumed a rejuvenated side with Nyikuli touching down six minutes after restart from Omiyo pass before Oliech grounded his first debut to send the stadium into frenzy.
After providing assists, Adimo ensured his name was on the score sheet when he gave his side three points from the drop goal to extend the lead to 34-10.
Ojee thought had notched his debut international try when he did well to brak through the Portugal defence and touch down behind the post, only for referee Oscar Lambert of Namibia to cancel the try after Aringo, Dennis Muhanji and Peter Karia were introduced before their replacements came out.
But that did not stop the Kenyans from scoring after Aringo made amendments two minutes later after Oliech who had an opportunity to ground set him up for the final try that sealed the win.
Eric dos Santos gave Portugal the consolation in the dying minutes from the maul but that couldn’t deter Kenya from claiming the win and brag of being the first East African to beat Portugal at home.