Rugby World Cup qualifiers: Kenya Simbas crush Uganda to storm semis

Thomas Okeyo

 Kenya Simbas forward Thomas Okeyo (right) celebrates his try with his teammates during their Currie Cup First Division match against South Africa's North West Leopards at RFUEA ground on June 4, 2022.

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya drilled in four converted tries to lead 28-0 at the break before piling in more pressure on their East African neighbours to extend their lead to 42-0.
  • Uganda's lone try came in the 70th minute.

Kenya Simbas a near-perfect first half performance enroute to their emphatic 42-7 win over Uganda Cranes in the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers at Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence, France Saturday.

Kenya drilled in four converted tries to lead 28-0 at the break before piling in more pressure on their East African neighbours to extend their lead to 42-0. Uganda's lone try came in the 70th minute.

Centre John Okoth scored two tries for the Simbas who will now meet the winner between Senegal and Algeria who play later Saturday at the same venue.

In the other matches, Namibia hammered Burkina Faso 71-5 to advance to the semi-finals at Stade Delort, Marseille on Friday.

They will take on Zimbabwe who edged out Cote d’Ivoire also on Friday at the same venue.

Kenya’s semi-final will be played Wednesday at 7pm at Stade Delort while Namibia and Zimbabwe semi-final is due the same day at Stade Maurice David starting 10pm.

Against Cranes, the Simbas scored six converted tries to end Uganda’s dream of making it to the 2023 Rugby World Cup programmed for Paris, France.

Others who scored for the Simbas were second row Thomas Okeyo, scrum-half Samuel Asati, eighthman Bethwell Anami and substitute lock Brian Juma.

Fullback Darwin Mukidza made five conversions while substitute fly-half Jone Kubu, who replaced the enterprising Dominic Coulson, curled over one.

It took Uganda 70 minutes to get on the board courtesy of substitute Jacob Ochen’s try that winger Solomon Okia converted.

The Simbas roared into the match from the start, pushing the Cranes into their own 22. Coulson took a slight chip on the left wing in the assault but the charging winger Collins Injera just missed latching onto the bouncing ball at the try box.

Kenya got a penalty then Coulson played for touch before Okoth was put through to score as Mukidza added the extras.

Then Okeyo burst through after some good layout from partner in crime Malcom Onsando at the middle with Mukidza’s boot doing the damage further.

Uganda’s defence worked hard to slow down the marauding Simbas but at some moment Asati put winger Jacob Ojee through from a set-piece to score but it was ruled out for a knock-on.  

The unrelenting Simbas were on the prowl with some lovely buildup off a lineout delivery.

Asati picked the ball from the ruck, sent Uganda defenders the wrong way from a dummy to land and stretch the score to 21-0 after Mukidza’s exploits.

Cranes centre Pius Ogena was sin-binned five minutes to the break for an infringement in the ruck.

The Simbas would build up the set-piece play as Asati released Anami on to score. Mukidza converted to go for the drinks at 28-0.

Okoth completed his brace as Kubu, Brian Tanga, Davis Chenge and Juma came in for Coulson, Asati, George Nyambua and Onsando respectively.

Juma made his presence felt immediately with a try that Kubu converted.

It was thereafter that the Cranes started to exhibit some moments of brilliance to test Kenya's defence with some good breaks.

It resulted into the hard-earned try by Ochen.

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