NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 7- The Kenya Simbas completed a double over neighbors Uganda, beating them 38-22 at the RFUEA Ground on Saturday to retain the Elgon Cup title in a match that also doubled up as a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match, a qualification tournament for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Just like during last weekend’s game against Zimbabwe, the Simbas dipped in the second half and there were nervous moments when the visitors narrowed the gap after trailing 28-5 at the break.
The Ugandans scored 17 points in the second half while Kenya only had three points off a penalty and a converted try.
Nonetheless, Ian Snook’s men ensured the job was done picking their third win of the Gold Cup and fourth since the New Zealander took over. His first match was against the Ugandans away in Kampala where they won 34-16.
What kicked off as a nervy start after Kenya had broken the deadlock quickly turned out into a field day for the Simbas as they mauled the Rugby Cranes with ease.
Jacob Ojee who returned to the starting 15 after missing last weekend’s win against Zimbabwe broke the deadlock within the opening five minutes dotting down on the left after Kenya pressed the Ugandans in their own 22.
Darwin Mukidza booted home the extras to give the home boys a 7-0 lead.
The Ugandans were not just about to lay low and watch as the Kenyans walked over them and they were almost getting away but Mukidza’s interception to tap the ball away from Philip Wokarach ensured the score remained intact.
Ivan Magomu had broken away in the middle sprinting away before offloading to Wokarach who was headed for the try box before Mukidza happened.
But, the visitors kept the pressure on, pinning Kenya back and they were rewarded when Wokarach dotted down on the right. He missed the conversion, Kenya retaining a 7-5 lead.
No sooner had they conceded a try than the Simbas responded with skipper Chenge dotting down his fourth try of the competition after he sneaked in behind the Uganda defense from the scrum.
Uganda had been punished for a high tackle after Vincent Mose had sprinted away after the Kenyans turned in possession from the restart before offloading to Felix Ayange who was tackled by Michael Wokarach as he sniffed the try line.
The conversion was good by Mukidza, a 14-5 lead handing Kenya the comfort.
Scrum half Samson Onsomu then added the third try for the Kenyans after some good play from the Kenyans and despite a late attempt by the Ugandans to tackle, the pint sized Onsomu had already dotted down.
Again, Mukidza worked his magic with the conversion for a 21-5 lead.
Ayange making his first appearance this season crowned off his moment with Kenya’s fourth try of the game from a brilliant move by the Kenyans off the counter, Mukidza offloading intelligently for Ayange taking away two markers with him.
The conversion went in as Kenya went to the break 28-5 up.
The Ugandans came back with intent in the second half and Ivan Magomu earned them their second try of the game after greasing off tackles to dot down on the right. Wokarach booted home the two points as they squeezed the gap to 28-12.
Kenya responded with Mukidza picking three points off a penalty after the Kenyans won a foul inside the Ugandan 22 but opted for points, Mukidza stepping up.
Snook made some changes, last weekend’s hero Dalmus Chituyu coming on for George Nyambua while Biko Adema came in for Peter Kilonzo. Moses Amusala and Peter Karia were also brought on board for Coleman Were and Patrick Ouko.
But, it was the Ugandans who kept on pounding and they had their third try through Michael Wokarach who dotted down on the right after some kick and chase from Aaron Ofoyrwoth who was playing ‘at home’ as he turns out for Kenya Harlequins.
Wokarach’s conversion was wide, but the Ugandans were sniffing blood as they went 31-17 close.
Kenya’s chase was further punctured when Andrew Chogo was sent to the sin bin and the Ugandans made the most of their numerical advantage picking their fourth try of the game through Philip Wokarach despite a late tackle from Onsomu.
The gap now at 31-22, the Ugandans saw the challenge as a mission possible.
However, the Kenyans still had much fight in their veins and Moses Amusala dotted down Simba’s fifth try of the game on the left after sneaking through space. With virtually the last kick of the game, Mukidza converted for a full time score of 38-22.