Visiting Uganda Cranes on Saturday stunned Kenya Simbas 16-13 in a tough encounter to win the first leg of men's Elgon Cup held at Mamboleo Showgrounds in Kisumu.
In the ladies showdown, skipper Philadelphia Olando landed a hat-trick of tries as Kenya Lionesses whipped She Cranes 42-13 in the curtain-raiser to the men’s duel which was the highlight of the event.
Uganda Cranes’ win means they are one win away from winning their 10th title of the competition in 22 meetings. The return leg will be played at Kyadondo grounds in Uganda on July 13.
Adrian Kasito ripped the Simbas’ defence after six minutes to land a try but his compatriot Jordan Bongomim was not lucky with the conversion.
The early try looked to have awakened Simbas as they unsuccessfully attempted to respond immediately from the left flank.
Aaron Ofoyrwoth extended the visitors lead on the 26th minute through a drop goal, before the hosts twice had to recover in their runs to avoid conceding more in the first-half.
But it was not too late before Ofoyrwoth made it 11-0 fives minutes later from a penalty.
Uganda’s Robert Kanyanya was sin-binned two minutes to the break for a dangerous tackle and Domnic Coulson made no mistake in reducing the deficit to 11-3 from the resultant penalty.
Simbas would have reduced the deficit further one minute into the second-half, but Coulson was not lucky from another penalty with the home fans screaming in disappointment.
Elkeans Musonye attempted to score Kenya’s first try moments later from the right flank, but he was cut short in his runs while his compatriot Billy Omondi suffered a similar predicament.
Santos Senteza ensured the Cranes’ first leg victory in the competition was on-course, when he landed a try in the 54th minute.
Five minutes later, Simbas landed their first try through Joseph Kagimu after beating the opponents with his pace on the right-wing. Geoffrey Okwach scored the hosts' second unconverted try and last of the men’s duel which attracted hundreds of supporters.
Renewing rivalry after missing out since 2015 due to logistical challenges, She Cranes almost took the lead on six minutes, when a Kenyan Lioness player dropped the ball in the 22m zone, the hosts recovering on time to clear the danger.
Uganda were reduced to 14 players moments later and Kenya capitalised on the advantage to take a 5-0 lead on 17 minutes through Grace Adhiambo. Irene Atieno missed the conversion.
Olando sent the home supporters into wild celebrations four minutes later when she broke near the try area to cross the line easily, Atieno redeeming herself with a successful conversion to stretch the lead to 12-0.
Olando grabbed a brace on 25 minutes after a beautiful exchange on the left flank. They missed the conversion.