Kenya Simbas beat Uganda Cranes 38-22 to retain Elgon Cup on Saturday but their hopes of making it to 2019 World Cup from the Africa qualifier diminished after failing to secure the much desired bonus point victory.
It was Simbas’ third consecutive victory, which saw them solidify their second place in the qualifiers that also count for Rugby Africa Gold Cup to 13 points.
Failure by Kenya to secure a bonus point victory from their three outings has virtually handed defending Gold Cup champions Namibia a leeway to the 2019 World Cup due for Japan.
That is after Namibia claimed comprehensive bonus point victories against Cranes (55-6), Tunisia (118-0) and Morocco (63-7) to put them on top of the six teams log with 15 points. Kenya edged out Morocco and Zimbabwe 28-24 and 45-36 respectively.
The Elgon Cup victory was dampened with the Simbas now turning their focus on finishing second. Kenya face Tunisia and Namibia on August 11 and August 18 respectively.
Kenya Simbas coach Ian Snook and skipper Davis Chenge looked crest-fallen at full-time after Cranes rallied from 28-7 at the break, scoring three tries in the second half, to deny Simbas the bonus point.
Snook and Chenge said their second chance and only hope to make it to 2019 Japan is through the second qualifier known as the Repechage tournament that will involve Germany, Samoa and Hong Kong.
However, Kenya must finish second in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup contest.
Unlike previous Repechages, the four teams will play in a Round-robin tournament, rather than the previous format which involved a semi-final and final.
“It will still be a tall order even if we are to beat Tunisia and Namibia with bonus points since Namibia will be far ahead owing to their huge margin victories,” said Snook.
Philip Wokorach scored a brace of tries while Michael Wokorach and Ivan Magomu scored a try each for the resurgent Cranes.
Inside centre Darwin Mukidza, who had a good day with the boot, converted all five tries by the Simbas besides slotting over one penalty.
Mukidza converted left wing Jacob Ojee, Chenge, and right wing Felix Ayange’s tries as the Simbas led 28-5 at the break and against Philips’ try. He also converted substitute forward Moses Amusala’s try.
“Our defence collapsed in the second half to allow Cranes' backs to run straight and hard in our lines. You really need to take on the hits to defend,” said Snook.
Chenge said after the Gold Cup clash, Kenya will have enough time to prepare for the Repechage. “We had a short time with the coaches, who had to craft a crush programme for us. We haven't had time to work on our defensive tactics,” said Chenge, adding that lack of concentration and fatigue cost them a bonus point.
“We have had tough three weeks with back-to-back sessions with the coaches,” said Chenge.
Cranes skipper Asuman Mugerwa said they too have a chances at Repechage but must win against Tunisia, Morocco and Zimbabwe with bonus points.
"We had lapses, lack of concentration and poor decision making in the first half but that changed after the pep-talk at the break," said Mugerwa.