2013 African champions Kenya declared their credentials with a record 100-10 win over Tunisia in an Rugby Africa Gold Cup test played at the RFUEA in Nairobi on Saturday afternoon.
The Simbas went into this test with doubts cast over their domestic form following a narrow defeat 29-30 defeat at home to Germany and an unconvincing 33-33 draw with Ugandan Cranes in their opening Gold Cup test. Head Coach Jerome Paarwater made four changes which included a debut cap handed out to Leo Seje Owade, who capped a fine display on the park with a try.
Talisman Darwin Mukidza scored a hat-trick, while Eric Kerre got a brace. Other try scorers included Jacob Ojee, David Ambunya, Samson Onsomu, Joshua Chisanga, Davis Chenge, Tony Onyango, Martin Owilla, Steve Otieno and Seje.
Paarwater will be best pleased with the energy displayed by his charges, especially in the first half as they ran the North Africans ragged and led 46-10 at the break. Kenya looked lethal on first phase and ran their backline moves with crisp, if not chilling, precision. They broke the Tunisian tackle line at will and constantly put their best attackers in space.
As the match wore on and with the five points secure, the big question was whether or not the home team had the wherewithal to maintain the intensity and keep the scoreboard ticking.
The partisan crowd, sensing history was about to be made, kept urging the Simbas on towards the 100 mark and their team delivered on the stroke of fulltime. Ojee ran in the 14th try with virtually the last play off a a scrum after a period of sustained pressure to take the score to 98-10. Kenny Andola the replacement back, calmly slotted what was probably the most important kick in Kenyan fifteens history to record the country’s first ever win with 100 points.
The Tunisians will be bitterly disappointed to have lost by such a margin, as any side would be, but it may be important to note that they had made seven changes to their starting XV after losing at home 53-7 to champions and pacesetters Namibia. More prudent to note is the fact that said changes were made across the spine of the team with the hooker, eighthman, scrumhalf, both centres, one wing and the fullback all being given the boot.
They were not able to get onto the front foot in defence, both on set-plays and in open play off the breakdown. Their defenders constantly showed poor individual and unit defensive technique by turning the inside shoulder early and presenting Kenyan players with opportunities to break the line on the inside. That said, the Simbas can be credited for the tactical and technical awareness to exploit those frailties.
The win sees Kenya climb up to second place with Uganda and Zimbabwe having had a bye and the Simbas will look to build momentum when they take on a battered and humiliated Senegal before they travel to Bulawayo for a date with a resurgent Sables side on the 22nd of July.