Rugby Rugby

Upbeat Simbas look to close season on a high

Kenya Simbas players walk up the pitch during their international testmatch against Germany at the RFUEA Grounds on May 27. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 23 – The Kenya 15s rugby team will play their final test match in front of home fans this season when they take on Hong Kong in the second of back-to-back test series games at the RFUEA Ground on Saturday afternoon, looking to bow out with a win.

The Simbas were held to a 19-19 draw by the Hong Kong Dragons in the first test last weekend thanks to a last minute booted try but the team is not ready to make the same mistakes when they face the Asian team again.

“We have worked on so many areas of weakness from the first match especially in our defende, support play and more importantly the mental strength. This time, we want to go on and win because this is the last time we are playing at home,” assistant coach Dominic Habimana told Capital Sport.

He added; “We expect an even tougher game this weekend and we will raise our standards as well to match and exceed what Hong Kong brings on the table.”

Assistant captain Darwin Mukidza who has been one of the star players this season for the Simbas anticipates a tough match but has disclosed the secret will be to ensure the intensity of the game remains high.

Kenya Simbas assistant captain Darwin Mukidza.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

“I expect a high intensity match because both teams are eager to win after last weekend’s draw. Of course we have polished up our weak areas and we are looking forward to win. We have worked on quick balls off the breakdown and we will be banking on the altitude; it favors us and we have to play a high intensity game to tire them off then strike,” the winger disclosed.

The technical bench led by South African Jerome Paarwater has rotated the squad from the one that played last weekend, fielding a stronger squad as they look to complete the job on Saturday.

KCB utility back Peter Kilonzo will make his test debut having worked hard in training with his last appearance being against the same opponents last year. He replaces David Ambunya who is ruled out with injury and will partner Leo Sejje at the centre.

The team will be skippered by Wilson Kopondo with last week’s captain George Ambunya dropping to the bench, same as the likes of Davis Ikambili, Oscar Simiyu and Lyle Asiligwa.

Fly-half Biko Adema misses out after failing to recover from the injury he picked up last weekend and according to Team manager Wangila Simiyu, his recovery might take a few weeks but should be ready for the Hong Kong trip.

“I wouldn’t call them wholesome changes, but all this is down to rotation. We have a very big squad of 40 players and everyone of them is part of the team. We have to give each a chance to prove himself on the pitch,” Simiyu noted.

Kenya Simbas’ Patrice Agunda in action against Hong Kong.Photo/KRU

Coach Habimana adds in that with the long season the team has had, it has been imperative to rotate the squad to ensure they have exploited all energy reserves and also give all the players ample time for rest and recovery.

Hong Kong is ranked 24th on the World Rugby standings, just a spot above Kenya. A win for the Simbas will be a huge boost for them to rake up ranking points and move beyond the visitors on the table.

Among the things that the team has worked on ahead of Saturday’s duel include support play especially from the line-outs, something that was lacking in the first match last weekend. The team has also polished on the kicking and scrums.

Kenya Simbas starting 15:

1.Moses Amusala 2.Peter Karia 3.Curtis Lilako 4.Simon Muniafu 5.Wilson Kopondo 6.Eric Kerre 7.Davies Chenge 8.Joshua Chisanga 9.Samson Onsomu 10.Isaac Adimo 11.Jacob Ojee 12.Leo Seje 13.Peter Kilonzo 14.Darwin Mukidza 15.Tony Onyango


16.Philip Ikambili 17.Oscar Simiyu 18.Dennis Karani 19.Oliver Mangeni 20.George Nyambua 21.Lyle Asiligwa 22.Dennis Muhanji 23.Vincent Mose.