Kenya Simbas will be looking to tighten their defence and set piece play as they look for their first bonus point victory against Uganda Cranes in their 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier cum Africa Gold Cup clash at the RFUEA grounds in Nairobi on Saturday.
The game kicks off at 3pm. Gates open at 10am with tickets retailing at Sh2,000 VIP and Sh800 terraces.
Skipper Davis Chenge reckoned that they have let in easy tries in their two opening matches against Morocco and Zimbabwe despite winning 28-24 and 45-36 respectively.
“We have worked on our lineouts that were not good against the two teams and we are confident of victory,” said Chenge, who warned his teammates against complacency in the tie that also counts for the second leg of the Elgon Cup.
The Simbas roared to a 34-16 victory against Uganda Cranes in the first leg of the Elgon Cup on May 26 in Kampala.
Chenge said the inclusion of second-row Oliver Mang’eni of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) in the starting line up will help boost their lineout delivery with experienced backs Vincent Mose (fullback) and Felix Ayange and Jacob Ojee (wing) enhancing their attack.
Chenge said the Simbas should expect a different Cranes outfit from the one that they faced in the first leg with most of their experienced players making a return to the team.
“We faced young players in the first leg and for sure they know what the Nairobi leg means for them, having strengthened their squad,” said Chenge.
Chenge said winning with bonus points in their remaining three matches will be vital in their quest for 2019 Japan World Cup qualification.
“Reality is that we could even beat Namibia without a bonus point and fail to qualify for the World Cup because of their huge victory margins,” said Chenge, adding that it’s their prayer that Namibia fail to win with a bonus point against Zimbabwe. The two sides clash on August 4 in Harare.
Namibia top the qualifiers table with 15 points, having chalked bonus point victories against Uganda (56-6), Tunisia (118-0) and Morocco (63-7). Kenya is placed second with eight points.
Influential centre Michael Wokorach, who had fallen out with the technical bench, is back in the Cranes squad for the first time this season.
Cranes head coach John Duncan has also brought back Michael's brother Philip Wokorach, Ivan Magomu, Martial Chumkam, Ronald Musajjagulanyago, Gerald Sewankambo and Marvin Odong returning to face the Simbas.
It will be Cranes second outing, having gone down to Namibia in Windhoek.
Last year, the Simbas drew 33-33 with Cranes in Nairobi but retained the Elgon Cup title with a 56-51 aggregate victory thanks to their first leg 23-18 victory in Kampala.
Kenya Simbas failed to qualify for the 2015 World Cup on an inferior point aggregate to Namibia whom they had ironically beaten.
Already, Namibia have made their intentions obvious: to comprehensively win their first three matches to remain with Zimbabwe (August 4) and Kenya (August 18) in Harare and Windhoek respectively.