NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 2 – Kenya 15s head coach Ian Snook is not getting carried away with the positive start the team has had in their Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign winning back to back against Morocco in Casablanca and Zimbabwe at home over the weekend.
The two victories see Kenya occupy second spot in the standings with eight points, seven behind leaders Namibia who have played a match more and picked bonus points in all of them.
“We got to play a few more games and then we wait to see what happens. Next weekend we are up again. We have had two close wins but we are just taking it one at a time and we hope for the best,” the tactician said after the nervy 45-36 win over Zimbabwe at the RFUEA Ground on Saturday.
“We have had three games since Rowlie (Murray Roulston) and I came here and we have kept on improving. We were better than last week despite the very short turnaround. The boys performed out of their skins. They had them in it to come back they were exceptional in the last 10 minutes,” the coach added.
Against Zimbabwe, the Simbas were staring at possible defeat until substitute Dalmas Chituyi popped up with a brace of tries to rescue the day for the home side and ensure Snook’s unbeaten run since taking charge remained intact.
Snook was full of praise for the debutant as well as the other players who came in with the likes of Moses Amusala, Oliver Mang’eni and Martin Owila bringing in power off the bench to ensure Kenya was better on the scrum from where the two tries came from.
“We probably should have given him 12 minutes instead of 10 and he would have made three tries,” Snook joked on Chituyi’s powerful impact.
He added; “The reserves who came in brought a lot of difference; Mang’eni did very well in organizing, Owila was also superb… all who came on proved what it is about to come on and make a difference.”
Skipper Davis Chenge who struck thrice in the first half was also delighted with the win and praised the boys who came on for giving the team the necessary push to ensure the campaign to qualify for the World Cup remains intact.
“Our intention was to run them down with intensity which we did well in the first half but in the second half we didn’t do that well. We had a couple of mistakes which slowed down our momentum and gave them an opportunity to come back. But we were able to regroup ourselves especially the guys from the bench came in and gave us a great push to turn the tables,” the skipper said.
He added; “There was that reality of the possibility of losing at home which is not something we want and we also we remembered we need maximum points to qualify for the World Cup which is our main goal and we had to dig deep, work together and win the game which we were able to do.”
Kenya will now regroup to work on a few areas of weakness before turning their claws on Uganda, a side they have already faced and beaten earlier on in the Elgon Cup.
Biggest on the minds of the Kenyan continent is to win by a better margin to earn a bonus point that would give them a competitive edge against Namibia, seen as the greatest rivals to the throne. Teams earn bonus points by winning by three tries or more or losing by seven points or less.
“I know for this tournament points are important. We haven’t been able to earn bonus points but we need to keep our heads straight and ensure we play with the same intensity throughout the game,” the captain said.
Snook has meanwhile said the boys are unfazed despute what is happening off the pitch among other issues assistant coach Roulston saying he is stepping away.
“These boys put up with stuff every day. Even at the game we only had one bus and we had to organize our own transport here. Nothing seems to faze them they just keep calm and move on; they have handled it really well,” the coach said.
He added; “Hopefully we get a long term plan here as well. We have come in and we have tried to do a lot in a short time. There’s so much talent around here; we have watched school games and it’s just a pity we are not better organized to take advantage of that,” the tactician further stated.
Nonetheless, the boys will spread their tentacles towards Mount Elgon, looking to exert their dominance against the Ugandans who picked up a point in their last visit to the Kenyan capital.