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Emphatic Simbas hit Tunisia with century

Kenya 15’s Youngster Steve ‘Security’ Otieno powers past Tunisia’s Ashraf Dhif during a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match played at the RFUEA Ground on July 8, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8- The Kenya Rugby 15s team made an emphatic statement after their below-par performance in their Rugby Africa Gold Cup opener against Uganda a fortnight ago, hitting a century past a hapless Tunisia at the RFUEA Ground on Saturday evening to record their first win of the tourney.

The Simbas ran in 15 tries to win 100-10 as they dazzled the North Africans with a pacey approach to the match, leading on to what might easily turn out to be the biggest victory on home soil in a competitive match.

With the fans chanting ‘100! 100!’ in the dying minutes of the match with the scores at 93-10, Jacob Ojee who had scored the game’s first try dotted down and Kenny Andola converted as Kenya hit the magic three figure.

Tunisia who last weekend lost out 53-7 to Namibia in their opening match left the pitch clutched up together, tears rolling down their eyes as the humiliating defeat sunk down in their minds.

“First of all, I must say thank you to the Kenyan fans who clapped for us as we got off the pitch. That shows great sportsmanship. But the loss today is not an embarrassment to us. It is an embarrassment to those players who refused to come down here and play this game,” Tunisia’s Saif Bousaada said after the match.

Fans cheer on Kenya during a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match against Tunisia played at the RFUEA Ground on July 8, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“This team is like the second team for Tunisia made up of players of 2 or 21 years all of who play in the Tunisian league which is not very strong,” Bousaada added.

A number of Tunisia’s first team players, most of who play in the French leagues turned down call ups to the team, leaving head coach Hedi Mohamedali with no choice but to field a squad mostly made up of home based players.

Nonetheless, Kenya took in the victory with a lot of ease with head coach Jerome Paarwater only complaining they shouldn’t have conceded the two tries that Tunisia ran in.

“I must confess that I didn’t expect the scores to be this big. I am very happy with how we played today. The only concern is that we were a bit shaky with the kick off and our defense also had some issues,” Paarwater stated after the match.

Skipper Wilson Kopondo, who made a return to the team after missing the last two games with injury, said the team was impressed with the result, but has cautioned his teammates not to let the result get into their heads.

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Ojee broke the deadlock with a quick try after picking out a fraction of space between the Tunisia defense and Mukidza added in the extras Kenya going 7-0 up. Mukidza then struck home a penalty to take the scores to 10-0.

Kenya 15’s deputy captain Darwin Mukida prepares to make a conversion during a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match against Tunisia played at the RFUEA Ground on July 8, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Kenya had started the match with high pace, keeping to the pre-match plans that would see them capitalize on the Nairobi attitude by tiring off the opponents early.

Fullback Mukidza then extended Kenya’s score to 17-10 from a well executed try.

The deputy skipper picked the ball in the middle of the pack, sprayed out wide to Ojee who used his superb pace to beat off his markers and just as the last man was approaching for a tackle, laid out to Mukidza who dotted down.

Ojee was in the thick of things once again with another burst of pace on the left, offloading to David Ambunya who dotted down and Mukidza converted for a 24-0 score.

Erick Kerre joined the party with the fourth try of the match, picking up the ball from skipper Kopondo who had used his strong arms to fend off the Tunisians before spotting Kerre’s run and beautifully laying up. Mukidza’s attempt with the conversion was wide.

The North Africans made an immediate response with Houcem Khalfi touching down on the eight, but Kenya cancelled out through Samson Onsomu from a Leo Sejje offload.

Joshua Chisanga’s immense power saw Kenya pick up their sixth try of the match after the Newcastle Falcons man pushed away his markers before offloading for Ojee who dotted down his second try of the match and the fourth in the Gold Cup to stretch the scores to 41-5.

Tunisia pulled one back almost immediately, Ashraf Dif dotting down after push and shove on the left.

Kenya though went to the break 46-10 up with Chisanga getting a try of his own with another of his trademark powerful runs.

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Davies Chenge, Tony Onyango, Sejje, Martin Owila, Steve ‘Security’ Otieno, Kerre and Sejje all dotted down to stretch Kenya’s dominance to 93 points. With the crowd charged for a converted try to make it to a century, Kenya camped in Tunisia’s half but the visitors were determined not to cave in.

Ultimately, Ojee delivered what the fans had been crying out for, powering through on the left to dot down and Andola converted.

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