“It was an incredible game. The lead changed hands four times, but we believed in ourselves," said Paul Odera, Kenya’s national Under-20 team head coach, after his charges stunned hosts Brazil 26-24 in a crucial Pool “A” duel at the 2019 World Rugby Under 20 Trophy in Sao Paulo on Saturday night.
Chipu, as the Kenyan side is known, was on the receiving end in the first 12 minutes, falling behind 10-0 after debutantes Brazil got on the scoreboard with a try each from Dos Santos Teixeira and Leonardo De Souza. Ferrer Spago missed the conversions.
Sensing another humiliation, Kenya regrouped quickly to reduce the deficit to three points in the 17th minute through Brian Amaitsa Masinza’s try, which was accompanied by a successful conversion from Dominic Coulson.
Seconds later, vice-captain Coulson levelled the scores 10-10 with a well-taken penalty. Coulson missed another penalty in the 27th minute, but redeemed himself eight minutes later as he added three points with his boot after a Brazil infringement. This gave Kenya a 13-10 halftime lead.
Kenya started the second half strongly as Geoffrey Okwach sped through Brazilian players to score a try after a fine pass. A successful conversion from Coulson saw Kenya build a comfortable lead 20-10.
Brazil made a substitution bringing in De Souza Oliveira for Porto, but it was Kenya who got into the scoresheet again, this time, Coulson adding a penalty.
Brazil came with full force scoring a try Pereira Proenca in the 55th minute converted by Spago. Another try from Ribeiro Ferreira converted by Spago after Odera replaced Masheti with Collins Obure and Wilfred Waswa with Bonface Ochieng’ saw Brazil go in front 24-23 with just 10 minutes left on the clock.
Chipu waere not ready to give up yet, giving Brazil the last blow with a last-gasp penalty from Coulson after Rotuk Rahedi had come on for Emmanuel Silungi and Porto replaced by Quevedo Araujo.
Chipu came into this fixture after being humiliated 63-11 by 2008 champions Uruguay.
Kenya, who hosted this eight-nation competition in 2009, will complete group stage action against Japan on July 17.
“The boys are learning fast. We push on,” said Odera, when asked about his thoughts on the Kenya versus Japan game.
Two-time former champions Japan hit Uruguay 46-31 to improve their points tally to 10. The Japanese had floored Brazil 56-24 on July 9.
Uruguay, who will face Brazil on July 17, have six points. Kenya occupies third spot with four points, pushing Brazil to last on two points.
Portugal and Tonga set up a tough final Pool “B” match after picking their second consecutive win. The Portuguese who had mauled Hong Kong 59-27 on July 9, added Canada on the list of casualties after seeing them off 49-21.
Tonga hammered Hong Kong 64-12. The islanders had hit Canada narrowly 26-24 in their opening match. Both Portugal and Tonga are on 10 points, but Portugal has a superior points difference.
Canada and Hong Kong have two points and zero respectively. These two will face off on July 17 to decide who will meet the last-placed side from Pool “A” in the ranking match for seventh-place.
The tournament, which serves as a qualifier for the top-tier World Rugby Under 20 Championship, will take place on July 21.