NAIROBI, Kenya, May 27 – Fly-half Chris Hilsenbeck scored a last gasp drop goal as visiting Germany beat their Kenyan counterparts 30-29 in a test match at the RFUEA Ground on Saturday afternoon, handing Jerome Paarwater his first loss at home since taking over as the Simba’s coach.
With Kenya leading by a seven point gap within the last 10 minutes, Germany rallied back, Harris Aounallah sinking in a try before the last ditch Hilsenbeck masterpiece sunk the Kenyan hearts.
“It is disappointing really; it is the first time I am losing here at the RFUEA grounds. But overall I am pleased with how we played though we had a few shortcomings especially on the racks. But this is a young side we are building and we take the lessons,” head coach Jerome Paarwater told Capital Sport after the match.
German skipper Michael Poppmier admitted it wasn’t an easy match against their hosts, but lauded his side for putting up a spirited performance especially having to battle against the Nairobi altitude.
“We needed to use our strength which was on the scrums and we got a few penalties towards the end which we should have converted. But we were lucky with the last minute drop goal. It wasn’t easy especially with the altitude. Kenya are tough and winning this is a huge plus for us,” the skipper said.
It was the Germans who started well, going 3-0 up when Raynor Parkinson converted a penalty even before the Kenyan legs could get some much needed game rhythm.
But immediately, the hosts responded, much to the delight of the RFUEA full house.
Flanker Erick Kerre dotted down after Samson Onsomu picked up well from a hopped ball from the Germans, spreading it to Kerre who did the rest of the work, skipping past tackles on the left to touch down.
Darwin Mukidza’s conversion hit the outside of the posts. He attempted to atone with a penalty a few minutes later, but it was wide.
But the Kenyans continued with the pressure, skipper Wilson K’Opondo marking his return to the team in style with a well taken try after powering through a pack of Germans. Mukidza added in the extras as Kenya went 12-3 up.
The Germans were good on the scrums; they showed superb strength and ball distribution. It is from such kind of show in strength that they got in their first try of the match, skipper Aounallah putting down the ball just a few centimeters into the try box.
Parkinson converted as Germany came to within two points, scores standing at 12-10 in favor of Kenya.
Kenya was forced into a first change, try scorer Kerre being pulled out after picking up an injury, George Nyambua taking his place for his Simbas debut.
Germany re-took the lead after some punch of pace, Brenner Kehoma making the most of a Biko Adema error to dot down. Kenya had won back possession and had launched a counter, but Adema mishandled with Kehoma picking and racing for a try for a 15-12 scores.
Sam Onsomu though took Kenya back up with a wonderful try under the posts. Mukidza won possession deep in the Kenyan half, strode away past his markers with his trademark run on the right before offloading to Onsomu who rushed under the posts.
Mukidza booted home the conversion, Kenya taking a 19-15 lead.
In the second half, the Simbas played with the same strength and David Ambunya extended the lead with another try under the posts.
Jacob Ojee picked the ball inside Kenya’s 22, used his powerful arms to push away two onrushing players before offloading to Ambunya after being caught down by the rushing German defense. Mukidza converted, Kenya sitting pretty at 26-15.
The Germans showed a never say die attitude and kept the fight, showing no signs of tiring down despite the punishing altitude and pace of the game. They put in a converted try to pull to 26-15, but Kenya went back ahead with Mukidza’s penalty taking the scores to 29-22.
Despite twice missing from penalties, Hilsenbeck showed up when it mattered most, booting home a huge drop goal from almost 50 metres out at the buzzer.
Kenya will now shift their attention to the away trip to Uganda where the first leg of the Elgon Cup will be played on June 10.