Tales From The Battle Of Lions
Sometimes a national rugby team ought to do what a national rugby team ought to do. Most of the times, this involves winning.
The bunch that plays for seven minutes a half has been denying us this. They should have told us early enough that the taps would run dry. Maybe their malting procedure was a bit off. Or maybe equipment at their distillery broke down.
But God so loved the Kenyan Rugby fan, that he breathed life into the 15s team. The following is an account from my own sober eyes. A feeling in 2010 once more rekindled. Did we have to wait for 4 years before we sipped off the grail of victory?
Linklater’s Boot vs Mukidza’s feet
5 minutes into the half and the Simbas would find themselves trailing. An infringement in Kenyan turf would get the referee calling for a penalty. Linklater would call for the tee. Soon enough, the flags would be lifted & the score board boys were picking up one of those boards labelled 3 and hanging them on the scoreboard.
The Spaniards would seem the better side on possession, taunting the Kenyan defence. Immensely tactical were they that for some 5 or 6 minutes, the main stand went silent. Then Darwin Mukidza, the elusive winger cut through defence and pranced some 20 or so metres to grounding the ball at the far right.
His boot may have missed a shoe shiner stroke that day after he failed to convert his 2nd try borne out of his speedy feet. A few minutes later, Bradley Linklater, the Spanish Morne Steyn would prove meticulous with his boot. His successful drill in got the score board boys picking the 6. A 4 point deficit and an obstinate Spanish outfit was not going to let go easily.
A tale of 2 locks
The Spanish front row of Javier Sainz, Joe Hutchinson & Fransisco Blanco had to an extent matched and was almost getting their counterparts caving in. A possession battle would be won in midfield, the burly Ronnie Mwenesi with a steal.
A turnover that would later get him pulling one defender and opening up Oliver Mang’eni for a run. Some fans with a little (or not soo Super Rugby-ish) understanding of rugby had closed out the chances. Mang’eni’s sidestep, final grounding of the ball and Mukidza’s conversion got the fans on their toes. A 17-6 halftime score would calm down some Kenyan nerve & spark life onto the stands once again!
Mang’eni shown yellow, Linklater attempts to spoil the party
Intelligent forward play by the visitors would get the Simbas finally caving in. Mang’eni would enter the ref’s notebook & Linklater’s boot had the smoothest time converting the penalty try for a 17-13 score line.
Kenya’s love for playing ball would get the ball swung for 2 phases before the Spanish defence would crack open. Omiyo would take the ball into space and into the 22. Marcos Puig would ready himself for the tackle but Omiyo’s insight would pick out a Vincent Mose run. He pulled in the trigger to release Mose who broke a tackle and outpaced another defender enroute to the try box! Mukidza was not having a good day with his boot. Kenya 22-13 Spain.
Spanish fever outbreak at the RFUEA
A brilliantly set maul would get Spanish flanker Bonan Anibal grounding the ball. Linklater would have no issues in adding the extras. Kenya 22 -20 Spain. The Simbas found themselves trailing a couple of minutes later.
Centre Nil Baro cut through defence after a wide overlap on the left. Linklater was accurate with his boot. Slotting in another for a 27-22 score. We needed a try. ‘Let’s Go Kenya, Let’s go’, some would jibe. Some would chant. It was becoming difficult resigning to a loss on home soil.
Ojee’s Courage sets precedence, Buyachi’s confidence seals the game
Kenya would then wake up to realization and push the Spaniards deep into their half. Ojee would pick it up at pace and was almost touching down at the posts before being illegally tackled by substitute back Jose Luis Del Valle. Penalty Try Kenya!
Mukidza couldn’t afford to waste the chance! 29-27 Kenya! The RFUEA burst into cheer, beer spills, throats made horse, vuvuzelas and whistles blown open, celebration galore! Lawrence Buyachi would drill the last screwdriver on any Spanish hope. Darwin Mukidza added the extras to his effort, closing the edgy game at 36-27 in Kenya’s favor.