Elgon Cup On a Knife’s Edge After 1st Leg
The first leg of the 2015 Elgon cup gave us little indication of where the trophies will land, with the Ladies playing out to a 5-5 stalemate while Kenya ‘A’ narrowly edged Uganda 20-17.
It was a dull affair in the Women’s category, with the number of débutantes having a clear impact on the quality of play. The Lady Cranes however looked far more potent with ball in hand, with the hosts looking static and one dimensional in their play.
Tries from Rachael Babirye for Uganda and Philadelphia Olando either side of half time was all the goal action we received in 80 minutes of play. The Lady Cranes will be upbeat heading into the second leg as they did a good job at shutting down their opponents. On another day, they would have won this encounter.
The Lionesses will have 3 days to get their house in order if they are to successfully defend the title they won so convincingly last year. In their defence, they only had one week to prepare for this match. Add to the fact that the local league is in the ten-a-side format, making the switch to 15s was an uphill task.
The men’s encounter was a far more better spectacle, as Kenya ‘A’ claimed a narrow 3 point advantage, heading to the second leg.
As expected, the cranes went the physical route, gladly, their hosts were well prepared. It was a match of several missed opportunities for both sides, a largely scrappy affair but none the less, entertaining.
Uganda were first off the blocks, through a Chris Lubanga penalty for a 3-0 lead. Moments after, Ken Moseti’s attempted drop goal sailed agonizingly wide, from Kenya’s first visit to the Uganda 22. The scores would remain unchanged for a large part of a cagey first half.
Captain Edwins Makori would however take his charges to the break with the lead, scoring from the back of a maul for a 5-3 score line. It was a scrappy affair in the first half, as both sides struggled to get into a rhythm.
Kenya had withstood the torrent of attacks from Uganda in the opening exchanges and would have been proud with their defensive efforts in the first half. They however would be concerned with their set piece execution, especially at the line out and discipline at the breakdown.
Uganda would rue their missed chances and were also as guilty as their opponents at the breakdown. For their advantage in size, they somehow couldn’t clearly dominate at scrum time and at the maul.
It was all to play for in the second half, and Kenya took the game by the scruff of the neck. Eden Agero was unlucky from a penalty managing to hit the upright, inside the first 10 minutes of the half. It was soon 10-3 as Charles Omondi gathered an overthrow from a line out to barge over. He had been denied by the ref from a similar situation moments before that.
Eden would miss the resulting conversion, for a 10-3 scoreline. The hosts were now looking better in open play, putting together quick phases and swaying the visitors from touch line to touch line. A moment of brilliance from that man Wuon Magak saw the score board read 15-3.
George received the ball just outside the Uganda 22, breaking one tackle before beautifully stepping from the next, then offloaded mid tackle to Alvin Otieno, who had the simple job of touching down. Eden would again miss from the conversion.
At this point, the game looked like a done deal before Kenyan born Ugandan, George Scott Oluoch barged over to make it a 5 point game at 15-10, after the conversion. Things would get a bit tricky for the hosts, as captain Edwins Makori was sent to the bin, with a little over 10 minutes to play.
Impressively, Charles Omondi would complete his brace, again from a line out, this time from the back of a maul. Eden having a day to forget from the boot, scores now at 20-10. Uganda again crawled back into the game, a converted Pius Ogena try made for a tense finish at the RFUEA, with the score board now reading 20-17.
Kenya would however hold on to this result and set up a potentially explosive return match in Kampala.
It was far from a convincing show from the hosts, though for every thing they lacked, they more than made up for in heart, character and a resolute defence (Well apart from the closing stages of the match).
I remember saying that I’ll be looking out for the performance in this match, given the result, I am satisfied with the showing on the day, though it could have been better.
A bit more accuracy from the boot and the line out with more discipline at the breakdown, would have seen that score tick on further. But full credit to this young side who held on for a win against a side that is far more experienced.
Cyprian Kuto was picked for man of the match, but my pick would have gone to Charles Omondi, not only for his brace, but his sheer work rate in the 80 minutes. Others that are worth a mention are Philip Kwame and Ken Moseti who withstood a barrage of attacks through out the game.
Kampala will be a whole different ball game and this result should not get to our heads. Its all to play for in both categories which lines up mouth watering encounters this coming weekend.