Hat-trick hero Darwin Mukidza lifted a plucky Kenya Simbas side to 45-25 win over Senegal 45-25 in their Africa Gold Cup match at RFUEA grounds on Saturday.
The win saw Kenya temporarily move to the top of the log of the continental tournament with 12 points, two ahead of Namibia who were set to face Zimbabwe later Saturday evening.
The visitors were first off the blocks after the lively Steve Sargos spilt the uprights with a penalty after the Kenyans were adjudged to have infringed at the breakdown.
Mukidza cancelled out their lead immediately with a try after a well weighted pass from fly half Isaac Adimo.
Mukidza then split the Senegalese defence again to score and convert his own try for a 12-3 lead. Sargos reduced the deficit after quickly tapping the penalty and landing near the posts. France-based Mathieu Boscaro added the extras for a 12-10 score.
Eighth man Joshua Chisanga and Dennis Muhanji, who replaced injured Jacob Ojee, scored a try each for a 24-10 halftime score.
Tony Onyango, Philip Ikambili and Mukidza crossed the line in the second half while Georges Pompidou replied for the visitors with two individual tries late on.
The match descended into a cagey and scrappy affair as the Senegalese slowed down the game, effectively countering the fast-paced Kenyan style of play.
After the game, the visiting captain Charles Preira Ndiaye admitted the Simbas were the better team.
“Kenyans played a good game and we were punished for our mistakes. We hope to work on our errors and aim at remaining in the top tier league next year,” he said.
However, Kenya’s head coach Jerome Paarwater, who had seen his charges dispatch Tunisia 100-10 last weekend, accused the visitors of playing negative and disruptive rugby.
”It was an ugly game. They played rough and negative rugby. They slowed the ball. They just didn’t want to play the game. We hope that we shall have better game against Zimbabwe and Namibia,” he said.
Kenya plays Zimbabwe next weekend before hopping to Windhoek for their final Gold Cup match of the season.