The Kenya Simbas started their international season with a home loss to Germany, their first home defeat since that 16-17 result to Uganda in June 2013.
Fly-half Chris Hilsenbeck was the hero of the day in Nairobi after he kicked a drop goal with the last act of the game for a 30-29 win. Up until then, Germany had dominated in the set-piece but it was Kenya who largely commanded the scoreboard, having led 12-3 at the end of the first quarter and then 26-15 around the hour mark.
With influential number eight Martin Owila in the sin bin for a high tackle, Kenya came under intense pressure in the latter stages, but it looked as if they would hold on until Hilsenbeck struck.
Germany had taken a first-minute lead from the boot of Raynor Parkinson only for Kenya to respond with tries from Eric Kerre, after good work in the build-up from Owila, and captain Wilson K’Opondo, the latter converted by Darwin Mukidza.
Germany then used their powerful lineout maul to clinical effect, resulting in a try for Eric Marks which Parkinson improved to make it a two-point game, 12-10 to Kenya, at the interval.
Three minutes into the second half Germany went ahead after they pounced on a spilt pass in midfield to work a try for Kehoma Brenner. But the advantage was short-lived as Kenya scored two more tries – both converted by Mukidza – through Samson Onsomu and David Ambunya, the second a wonderful team effort that started from a turnover in their own 22.
Germany were not giving up the fight easily, though, and Sean Armstrong crossed for a converted try before Mukidza kicked a penalty to make the score 29-22 to the home side.
When Harris Aounallah touched down with less than 10 minutes to play, it was all eyes on Hilsenbeck. Instead of levelling the scores though, the fly-half pushed his conversion attempt wide.
Germany failed to turn their dominance into points against the short-handed Kenyans, Hilsenbeck and Jamie Murphy both missing shots at goal as the clock ticked down, But just when it looked as though their chance of victory had gone, they managed to work one last attacking position for Hilsenbeck, who held his nerve to bring about a successful conclusion to what he later described as “the hardest match I’ve ever played in.”
The victory was worth 1.39 rating points to Germany, which is enough to lift them three places, above their vanquished opponents and Canada and Portugal into 22nd place, a position they last achieved back in March.