Kenya vs Hong Kong Player Ratings.
The Kenya Simbas on Sunday played out to a 19 all draw in the first of a two test series against Hong Kong.
With 17 changes to the Simbas side, this test offered the perfect platform for players who had been overlooked to make a case for themselves. Most did stake a claim to the regular simbas side, giving the technical bench a real headache going into the decider. Here is how I rate the individual players’ performances out of 10.
- James Kubasu (4) – Played his feet off, but unfortunately didn’t make an impact on the game, the scrummaging didn’t do much to help out either as Hong Kong had the upper hand most of the game.
- Phillip Ikambili (6) – Apart from a few misplaced line outs, Ikambili played a great game all through, his work rate as always was impressive. He fits in perfectly in the ‘extra back row’ role.
- Dennis Karani (4) – Like his club mate Kubasu, Karani was largely underwhelming in this one. As one of the senior players in the squad we expected much more from him.
- Emmanuel Mavala (5) – He had the mammoth task of filling into Wilson Kopondo’s role, he did the basics right remained under the radar and didn’t do enough to excite.
- Oliver Mang’eni (7) – With stand in captain not known for his talking, Oliver took up this role with great command. Talking to both ref and team mates, at 14-0 down he could be seen urging on his mates at every breakdown. As always his role at the line out was impressive, he carried the ball well..if only he had seen Onsomu on his blind side after he had combined well with Edwin Machanje. Like the front row this lock pairing should also be faulted for our poor scrums.
- Elkeans Musonye (7) – Usually deployed at 8, Elkeans probably played the best rugby I have seen from him in a while. Alongside his back row partners they were beasts in defence and attack, he was one of the best performances on the day.
- George Nyambua (8) – The Kenyan Siya Kolisi took up the mantle of captain and led from the front with his actions. I don’t remember seeing him drop a tackle, he was ever present whether in attack or defense. My moment of the match came when he cross covered from a scrum at the center of the pitch, to take out the HK winger close to the 22 on the left end of the pitch.
- Edwin Machanje (7) – The buffalo had a point to prove and played like a man out to make a statement. Our best ball carrier on the day, those two line breaks were something special and he did well to keep possession at the back of a scrum that took a pounding all evening.
- Lyle Asiligwa (4) – It wasn’t the best of displays from Lyle, he got undone with some of his decisions, couldn’t provide quick ball off the breakdowns in a game that we needed to play at a high tempo. He looked tired out there.
- Biko Adema (N/A) – Unfortunate for Biko who only played 4 minutes before limping off with an ankle injury.
- Alex Olaba (7) – Olaba was devastating with ball in hand, safe on the high ball and marshaled well in defence. His try was the icing on a great display on the day.
- Brad Owako (6) – Largely anonymous on attack but did well on defence, he struggled to break his opposite number but also didn’t give away much to the opponent. Coordinated well with Patrice at outside center.
- Patrice Agunda (5) – Though he was deployed in an unfamiliar role, most of us expected much more from Patrice. He didn’t do much wrong but he also did not do anything special, perhaps due to the ‘new’ surroundings, his work rate has never been in doubt. He did well especially in defence in that 13 channel. The yellow card in the first half was a blemish in his rankings though.
- Dennis Muhanji (7) – Muhanji put out a great display on the day and picked up the try to level the scores. Was probably our biggest yard gainer, always breaking the line with every carry. He was busy through out the match and was one of our hardest workers out there.
- Vincent Mose (6) – The veteran played a lukewarm game by his standards, perhaps his stint in Uganda has slowed him down. Despite this, he was instrumental in controlling a new look back three, was as always dependable under the high ball, apart from that one ball that the ref was very lenient with. Who can forget that chase after the Hong Kong player made an intercept?
- Peter Karia (4) – Came on for Ikambili, playing in the last 20 or so minutes, didn’t do much to write home about.
- Oscar Simiyu (7) – Came on for Kubasu and immediately made an impact both in the scrum and open play, devastating with ball in hand he got more involved in play than his counterpart. He could have gotten a try to seal it too, but ref blew for a knock on.
- Bramwell Mayaka (5) – On for Karani, didn’t do much to write home about here either, did his job well and alongside Simiyu, stabilized our scrum.
- Ronnie Mwenesi (6) – Came in for Mavala and like Oscar, he made an immediate impact with some huge carries, was unlucky with one that saw him fumble the ball.
- Steve Otieno (5) – On for Machanje, ‘Security’ did his part in the 10 or so minutes he played. Re ignited our ball carrying options and was also great in defence.
- Samson Onsomu (9) – It is rare that a Man of the match is picked from the substitutes, coming on early in the second half, the little Fijian did not put a foot wrong. He did what Lyle failed to for most of the match, was quick off the break down, made the right calls at every turn.
- Ken Andola (4) – Kenny had an afternoon to forget, coming on in the 5th minute he probably didn’t expect to come on that early, took a while to settle down. Even when he did, he had some brain freeze moments and struggled with the boot, ironically he sunk in the conversion from the far touch line to level the scores. His decision making let him down on more than enough occasions.
- Benjamin Marshall (4) – Came on late into the match, with scores tied he did well to keep the Hong Kong attacks at bay and also got a couple of carries to his name.
On average the team score 5.7, we’ll give them the 6, credit to them for turning around what looked like a guaranteed thumping into a draw. As mentioned a good number of these players put their hand up to be counted for the decider on Saturday, the technical bench has their work cut out for them.
It is all to play for in what promises to be a cracker of a test match this Saturday at the RFUEA, you wouldn’t want to miss out.