Nairobi — The national men’s rugby 15s team began their Victoria Cup campaign on a no-nonsense note with a 36-12 win over Zambia at the Kyadondo Grounds in Kampala on Wednesday evening.
Ephraim Oduor opened proceedings at the first whistle, dotting over the whitewash with Kabras Sugar RFC’s Jone Kubu converting.
Joel Inzuga made a fairytale start to his test debut with Kenya’s second try of the game, which was also converted by Kubu.
Another debutant, Kenya Harlequin’s Paul Mutsami, stretched Simbas lead in the 21st minute as the southern Africans struggled with their opponents’ fiery start.
However, Zambia — seeking their first win over Kenya since 1976 — got back into the game via a penalty goal by Alex Mwewa in the 27th minute before Terry Kaushiku added another eight minutes later to ignite thoughts of a comeback.
The scores precariously poised at 19-6 in favour of Simbas, the Zambians came back guns blazing in the second half and were rewarded with another penalty goal.
However, the script reverted to type as coach Jerome Paarwater’s charges resumed control of the proceedings.
Fiji-born Kubu put his name on the scoresheet in the 49th minute with Simbas’ fourth try but failed to convert the resultant penalty.
For all their dominance, the home boys seemed to be giving away too much penalties for Carlos Katywa and Curtis Olago’s — stand-in coaches for Paarwater — liking.
Kaushiku stepped up on the plate to score another penalty for the Zambians in the 58th minute as they sought to give a better account of themselves than their opening fixture loss to Uganda over the weekend.
It was Simbas, however, who were next to celebrate as Teddy Akala put the ball over the whitewash with eight minutes to the end of the game.
In added time, captain George Nyambua put the gloss over a huge win with the fifth try, which was duly converted by Strathmore Leos’ Andrew Matoka — who had replaced Kubu midway through the second half.
Kenya will next face the hosts at the same venue on Sunday in what will also be the first leg of the Elgon Cup.