The Simbas began their Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign with a 33-33 draw against a dogged Uganda at Nairobi’s RFUEA Ground on Saturday 24 June 2017. The hosts however retained the Elgon Cup on a 56-51 aggregate,having won the first leg 23-18 in Kampala two weeks ago.
The hosts were slow off from kickoff, Uganda’s Rugby Cranes looking more at home before a vociferous 6,000 crowd and went ahead through fullback Philip Wokorach’s penalty. It was all Uganda in the opening stages, lock Charlie Uhuru barging over with Wokorach converting to silence the partisan Nairobi crowd, the Rugby Cranes leading 10-0, a whitewash imminent.
Beginning to see more of the ball, the Simbas made forays into the Ugandan 22 for the first time in this encounter, Kenya Captain Darwin Mukidza inevitably drilling home three points from a penalty after the visitors had infringed.
The speedy Jack Ojee would then race clear to score at the corner, bringing the Simbas to within two points of Uganda before prop Moses Amusala scored off the rolling maul to give Kenya a three point lead, their first lead of the tie.
Mukidza and Wokorach would trade penalties as the Simbas led 16-13 at the interval.
Uganda would attack the start of the second half just as they opened the first half, their vigour resulting in Brian Asaba touching down, Wokorach on top of his kicking game with the conversion to see the Cranes retake the lead minutes into the second half.
They would continue to dominate against an uncharacteristically erratic Kenya who somehow managed to get over the chalk, Ojee once again turning on the afterburners to land his brace, Mukidza with the sweetly struck conversion from the corner to put the Simbas 23-20 up in mid second half.
This seemed to bring the roar back to the Simbas, Simon Muniafu with a big carry but losing the ball on the tackle, and stretchered off minutes later with a suspected should injury, George Nyambua coming in for the son of Kenya legend Max Muniafu.
Jerome Paarwater would soon throw on Brad Owako and James Kubasu for their debuts as the match proceeded. The Simbas drew a penalty off another Uganda infringement, Mukidza with the goal between the sticks to build a six point cushion with less than quarter of an hour remained.
Uganda fly half Ivan Magomu weaved through the static Kenya defense, creating a platform that eventually saw Michael Wokorach score off the third phase with his namesake Phillip converting to put Uganda 33-26 ahead with precious little left on the ticker.
A late penalty try awarded to the Simbas tied the match, sparing them blushes before their demanding supporters, 33-33 the full time score.