NAIROBI, June 13 – Kenya Rugby 15s registered mixed results with Simbas beginning their Africa Cup campaign with a dispiriting 20-28 loss to hosts Zimbabwe in Harare on Saturday.
Back home, defending champions Kenya A rallied three from points down to narrowly stop visitors Uganda 20-17 in the first-leg of Elgon Cup whilst the Lioness were held to 5-5 in the same competition at Nairobi’s RFUEA Grounds.
In Harare, Simba who were seeking revenge against a side who ended their 2015 Rugby World Cup dreams found themselves trailing 14-0, before coming back to level 17-17 at the interval.
The second half was edgy with both teams exchanging penalties before the Sables pulled away for a 23-20 lead, before the hosts added a try deep into the game to seal the win.
Champions Namibia were 22-14 winners away to Tunisia who travel to Kenya June 28 when the Africa Cup round robin enter match two.
Charles Omondi grounded two tries to inspire Kenya A head for the return leg next weekend in Kampala with a slim three point lead but head coach Mitch Ochola was confident they will retain the title.
“A lot to work on in terms of striking because we missed 12 points off the post, execution has to be much better we still have some cobwebs to clear.
“I know it’s going to be a tough encounter in Kampala because they want to win but our objective remains on retaining the Cup,” Ochola, the Strathmore Leos head coach said.
Uganda captain, Brian Odong, was positive they will overturn the deficit.
“We have witnessed a gruelling battle between the two teams as always, very intense and physical game. I congratulate Kenya for the win, they had a very good structure.We need to win by four points to reclaim the Elgon Cup and hopefully we will work on our structure and be ready.”
Uganda who entered the match from beating Kabras 17-11 in friendly, shoot off with a penalty converted by outside scrum half, Chris Lubanga in a match they dominated in the first 15 minutes with danger man Justin Kimono tormenting the Kenyan defence.
Essau Otieno could have put matters to level but the full back missed a penalty after his poor kick rolled under the post.
The visitors scrum half, Davis Kyewalabye was sent to the sin bin at the half hour mark for a high boot but it took 10 minutes for the hosts to touch down despite having one man more.
Skipper, Edwins Makori grounded on the hooter from a rolling maul after pilling pressure from the line out but otieno missed the conversion to lead 5-3 at the break.
It was tense second-half that could have seen Kimono sent-off for head butting Kennedy Moseti but he escaped not even a sin bin from the Zimbabwean referee.
Kenya were awarded a penalty three minutes later, but Eden Agero hit the post before Ochola pulled out Francis Akatu for Elton Isiaho.
Omondi opened his account to extend the lead from a rolling maul unconverted try started from the line-out before George Asin set Alvin Otieno for the third try but Eden Agero missed the conversion.
Scot Oluoch pulled one back for Uganda, before Omondi completed his brace from a rolling maul try. Pius Ogena reduced the deficit for Uganda in the dying minutes.