NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 23- Homeboyz winger Cyprian Kuto produced a man of the match performance as Kenya ‘A’ 15’s team humbled visiting Hong Kong 24-18 in a test match played at a soggy Impala Ground on Tuesday night.
On a cold and wet night, Kenya ‘A’ managed to comeback three points down from an 8-3 scoreline to close within as Hong Kong lead 11-10 at the interval.
However, the hosts returned stronger for the final period to take a 24-11 lead before Kenya scored a late converted try to seal the famous victory.
“We really had to come in and put our best feet forward. It was a very tough match especially when we started a bit slow in the first half because of some jitters. But once we got right into it in the second half, we managed to get a good hold. It gives us a lot of motivation winning an international match,” Kuto told Capital Sport after the match.
“It shows that we really need more of these test matches because I think we can match and probably beat most of the teams ahead of us on the standings,” he added.
The game though was blighted by an injury picked up by skipper of the day Innocent ‘Namcos’ Simiyu early in the first half.
“I know he is a strong man. It is a problem with his Achilles tendon but we will assess it and see how long it will take. Of course it is a worry noting that he had battled a long injury before but hopefully it is nothing too serious. We’ve just said a prayer for him,” assistant coach Dominique Habimana noted after the game.
Hong Kong skipper Nick Hewson conceded defeat but promised they will bounce back in the second match on Saturday against the Kenya Simbas which will be a full test match that will reflect on the IRB rankings.
“Kenya were better than us today because they came out strong especially in the second half. There are lessons we picked today like working on our breakdowns and come Saturday we will be better. It was a very good run out for us especially because we haven’t been together for long,” the skipper offered.
The visitors were off to a flyer, Connor Hartley touching down on the left for a 5-0 lead, coming just after Jason Kjestrop’s penalty had gone wide.
The Simbas reduced the deficit to 5-3 via a Michael Agevi penalty but Hong Kong went right back into a healthy lead with Kjestrop converting a penalty to take the scores to 8-3.
With Simiyu out injured and Sam Onsomu coming on for him, Hong Kong continued with their decent run with Kjestrop converting another penalty for an 11-3 lead.
Urged on by the capacity crowd which braved the evening chill, the Simbas pushed on with Kuto producing a darting run from deep in the Kenya half, only to be stopped just inside the Hong Kong 22.
Kenya built on from there, with Patrice Agunda grounding under the posts as Kevin Masai converted for an 11-10 score at half time.
After the break, Kenya immediately started with a punch, Onsomu showing a clean pair of heels with some good kicking pace from a turnover defying the slippery nature of the pitch to dot down for a 15-10 Kenya lead. Masai converted as Kenya went 17-10 up.
Kuto then pulled up one of his trademark runs, pacing down on the left straight from a line out deep in Kenya’s half and diving down to stretch the score to 22-11, Masai taking it two further to 24 after converting.
Hong Kong pressurized late, with Matt Rosley converting Jack Pafit’s try to push the score to a six point match, but it was too little too late as the hosts held on for the win.
Saturday’s match promises to be a cracker with Kenya poised to go past number 22 on the World Rugby rankings if they beat Hong Kong by a margin of more than 15 points.