Bishop Onen broke Kenyan hearts when he slotted home a last-minute penalty to spur Uganda Cranes to a 20-17 victory over the champions in the Africa Cup rugby in Jammel, Tunisia.
The defeat on Tuesday night left Michael “Tank” Otieno’s charges in an awkward position since they must beat Tunisia on Saturday if they are to remain in the Confederation of Africa Rugby (CAR) Cup Group 1A championship.
CAR will from next year use the group as a qualifier for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in London. It will be heart-breaking for the Kenyan fans to see their team relegated to Group 1A next year, just a season after lifting their maiden Africa Cup when the team downed Tunisia 16-7 in Nairobi.
Uganda will now meet Victoria Cup champions Zimbabwe, who beat Tunisia 30-14 in the other Cup semi-final.
Out-muscled in scrummages, ruck
Kenya led 15-19 with tries from second row Tony Mutai and flanker Duncan Ekasi. Even though fly half Eden Agero missed the conversions, he scored a drop goal and two penalties. Prior to Onen’s try, flanker Scott Oluoch, prop Brian Odongo and Mathias Ochwo had touched down a try each for the Cranes.
Otieno said his charges were out-muscled by Cranes, especially in scrummages and ruck situation.
“While we were astute in the line-outs, the Ugandans had an edge in the scrums as they shoved us off the ball with their physical strength and our body position in the ruck worsened things for us,” said Otieno. “We also couldn’t attack from out set-pieces with late support coming in.”
Otieno said the defeat has put them in a critical situation on Saturday: “We have no otherwise but to up our game and win.”