NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – The 43-34 loss at the hands of Hong Kong on Saturday evening has proved costly for the Kenya 15s team as they have dropped two places in the latest World Rugby Standings, moving to 27th from a previous rank of 25th.
The Dragons who drew 19-19 with the Simbas in the first test a week ago have climbed two places courtesy of the decent result on the road, moving to 22nd.
Kenya had hoped to wind up the season at home on a high when they faced Hong Kong on Saturday, but a series of errors saw them finish just as they started, with a loss.
The team will now have two weeks to rest before embarking on pre-season training ahead of the four-nations invite tournament in Hong Kong in November where they will face the Dragons again as well as Russia both who are ranked above them and Chile who are ranked 28th.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and after the rest look to put in the shifts during pre-season. One of the key areas we will work on is the set piecse especially the scrum where our weaknesses were exposed. The less errors we have, the more we get to enjoy our game,” team captain Wilson Kopondo said after the disappointing loss against Hong Kong.
Assistant Coach Charles Ngovi was not entirely deflated with the game on Saturday, but has urged the players to ensure less mistakes especially at the high level, coming at a time when qualification to the World Cup is a major priority.
“The important thing is that the players do understand our systems. This season we have achieved most of our goals. One of the key things we have identified is the pre-season. Our players didn’t have a good pre-season and that is one area we will rectify as we prepare for next season,” Ngovi said.
He added; “We want to build on our strength, cardio and agility; we also need to work on our endurance to play at a high level with high speed for a long period of time.”
In Saturday’s match, Hong Kong looked fitter than the Kenyans despite playing at an unusual high altitude and their conditioning looked in tip top form.
Head coach Leigh Jones who said he brought in a squad of mostly young players said he was impressed with the tour where he exposed most of his uncapped players and he looks forward to perfecting the team’s flow during the four-nations tourney.
“We are in our pre-season phase and this is mostly about mixing youngsters with the experienced players. It has been a pretty decent tour for us because the youngsters have picked vital lessons which in the next few months will help us prepare for the World Cup qualifiers,” Jones noted.
The Simbas will now look to finish the season on a high. In 2017 they have played nine matches, lost three, drawn two and won four. In the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, the Simbas finished second behind Namibia, their biggest stumbling block to World Cup qualification.