The Kenya Simbas had mixed fortunes in 2017 posting 4 wins,2 draws and 6 losses.
The Simbas will have to end the year with the coach position vacant as the Kenya Rugby Union announced it’s decision to part with the team’s head coach Jerome Paarwater after 5 years in charge.
The Scrummage reviews the Simbas performance in 2017 which culminated with the Regal Hotel Cup of Nations in Hong Kong.
Kenya 15s started off their year with a friendly tie dubbed Tatu City Series against Germany at the RFUEA grounds on Saturday, 27th May.
In a match which the lead kept changing hands,Simbas blew a 26-15 advantage to lose with a 30-29 score.The likes of Erick Kerre,Samson Onsomu and Captain Wilson Kopondo all inscribed their names on the score sheet.
On the 10th of June,the team made a short trip to Kampala for the first leg of the Elgon Cup against Uganda Cranes at the Legends Rugby grounds.
Trailing 18-10 at the interval, Jerome Paarwater would bring in burly number 8 Joshua Chisanga,the decision paying off as the tide tilted in Kenya’s favour who ended up claiming a 23-18 win.
Elgon Cup triumph
Two weeks later and the sides locked horns for the second leg in Nairobi with everything to play for.The match was also serving as the Africa Gold Cup opener.
In a match which Kabras Sugar dangerman Philip Wokorach starred,posting a 100 percent record conversion rate,the Simbas had to rely on a late penalty try to salvage a 33-all draw,clinching the Elgon Cup in the process.
Seje scores on debut against Tunisia
Kenya hosted Tunisia on 24th June in Nairobi, seeking to bounce back following the heartbreaking draw against Uganda.
Paarwater’s charges would not dissappoint,tearing apart the visiting North Africans with a 100-10 scoreline with Darwin Mukidza and Jacob Ojee being the tormenters in chief.
While Mukidza helped himself to a hat-trick of tries,his KCB team-mate Ojee bagged a brace.Leo Seje who had been handed his national team debut also opened his account in that match.
On July 15,Senegal toured the RFUEA grounds for the Africa Gold Cup round three action and despite putting up a resilient display,they would finally crumble, losing 45-25 to the hosts.
Mukidza was in fine form yet again,neutralizing Senegalese dangerman Steve Sargos to bag a brace of tries but his KCB counterpart Jacob Ojee would have his match end prematurely due to injury.
The Kenya Simbas travelled to Bulawayo for their first away assignment of the Africa Gold Cup where they managed to shut out the Zimbabwe Sables with a 41-22 win at the Hartsfield grounds.
The likes of skipper Wilson Kopondo,Moses Amusala and Martin Owila were all on target.
Do-or-die match against Namibia
From Bulawayo,the Simbas would connect to Windhoek for a do-or-die fixture against hosts Namibia at the Hage Geinghob Stadium.
The stakes were high in this one as the victor would definitely be crowned the Kings of Africa.
The Namibians would however pummel a lucklustre Kenya Simbas side to retain the Africa Gold Cup crown.
After the conclusion of the Africa Gold Cup,the Kenya Simbas hosted Hong Kong in a friendly clash in Nairobi on 20 August with the match ending 19 all as Simbas had Dennis Muhanji to thank following his late converted try which saved them from the jaws of defeat.
The sides would renew their rivalry a week later,this time coach Paarwater recalling his experienced players after giving a run to the fringe members of the squad in the first test.
It was however Leigh Jones side that ran away with victory, stunning the partisan home crowd with a 40-30 win over the Simbas.
Regal Hotels Cup of Nations
After two months break,the side would return to action,this time honouring the invitational Regal Hotel Cup of Nations in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong,the side was scheduled to face Chile,Russia and host side Hong Kong.
Their first match was against Chile,a duel which the Simbas received a 23-3 thumping at the hands of the South Americans with Mukidza bagging a consolation courtesy of a 3-pointer with his boot.
Four days later,the Kenyans took to the Kings Park Sports grounds for their second match of the tournament and despite posting a much improved performance in tes of execution and set piece play,the side fell 31-10 with Nato Simiyu and Darwin Mukidza the scorers.
In their final match at the one week-tournament,Paarwater’s charges would meet a familiar opponent in Hong Kong.
In what was the third meeting of 2017 between the sides,many Kenyan fans will definitely take pleasure from their team’s performance in that match as they put their best foot forward at the tournament.
The Simbas touched down four times courtesy of Samson Onsomu,Phillip Ikambili,Vincent Mose and Oliver Mang’eni as well as managing two conversions and two penalties.