The Simbas started their Elgon Cup defense with a nervy 23-18 win over Uganda in the first leg played at Kampala’s Legends Rugby Club on Saturday.
But then they began to crumble, Marvin Odong going over before Philip Wokorach drilled home three penalties for an 11-10 lead. He would then convert James Odong’s try after a brilliantly taken cross kick from Ivan Magomu to see his side lead 18-10 at the interval.
Martin Owila went over the chalk in early second half, Mukidza converting to see the Simbas come to within a point of their hosts but still committing a litany of errors and displaying an uncharacteristic indecisiveness on defense.
Jerome Paarwater would throw on Issac Adimo and Josh Chisanga for Biko Adema and Owila respectively, changes that helped to bring back the Simbas roar.
The Ugandans were still shading it though, let down first by poor handling, then by a determined Kenyan defense.
Adimo and Chisanga’s influence continued to be felt and as they surged forward, they forced the Ugandans into an error that was penalized 27 meters in front of the sticks. This was surely fodder for Mukidza who drilled the ball between the sticks to put the Simbas ahead for the first time since early first half. He would then drill home a second penalty, the scores now 23-18 with quarter of an hour to go.
The Rugby Cranes would attempt to chase the game but couldn’t find their way past the Simbas, the full time whistle soon sounding, relief for the Kenyan technical bench, travelling fans and everyone who followed the game on social media.
The return leg, which doubles up as the Africa Gold Cup first leg takes place in Nairobi on Saturday 24 June 2017.