Kenya underestimated us, says Hong Kong coach Jones

By alex wafula
Aug 27, 2017
  • Hong Kong lift the series Trophy after beating Kenya 43-34 at the RFUEA ground on Saturday. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Samson Onsomu gains grounds to beats Hong Kong's Lex Kaleca in the second Test match. He scored one of the four tries for Kenya. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

  • Wilson K'Opondo, the Kenya captain apologized to fans for not winning the match against Hong Kong. (Photo by Shutterspeed)

Changing the entire squad for the second test series tie was a huge mistake by Kenya, Hong Kong coach Leigh Jones has said.

The Dragons who retained their entire starting 15 from the first test last weekend which ended 19-19 went on to beat their hosts 43-34 in the second test on Saturday.

The hosts put out a strong 15, what is viewed as the first team, but ended up performing worse than the second string players.

Both teams ran in four converted tries but Hong Kong landed five penalties, against Kenya’s three.

“They made 15 changes and that gave us great challenge and we responded well. We trained hard all week. We only wanted to stop the better players. But, some of them weren’t where they should be and they paid a price for it,” Jones observed.

Hong Kong were more physical and forced Kenya to errors especially on the scrums. They used their strength well despite the lack of pace and it paid dividends especially getting the five penalties, all which were converted by man of the match Mathew Rosslee.

Kenya captain Wilson Kopondo was disappointed with the result. He was sorry to the fans that they could not say goodbye with a win. Kenya’s season at home ended on a loss, just like the start courtesy of Germany.

“It wasn’t the best result we hoped for. We really hoped to end the season on a high, but we went down a bit with too many errors and we ended up losing,” Kopondo said after the match.

“We knew they would be fitter having acclimatized for a week. We defended the entire of the first half and by second half they were ready for us. We didn’t capitalize well on our strong points. We have to go back to the drawing board and prepare for the four nations,” the skipper added.

Failed to stamp authority

Assistant coach Charles Ngovi was equally disappointed but noted that the second half performance where Kenya converted four tries was better. He said they failed to get hold of the game in the first half and paid for it.

“We keep telling the boys every time we should avoid some mistakes at this level. One mistake, you are punished and you are out of the game,” Ngovi said. His boss Jerome Paarwater was missing from the team.

The first half was characterized by a flurry of penalties. Rosslee got Hong Kong flying in with a penalty within the first three minutes but Darwin Mukidza responded in similar fashion, restoring parity at 3-3.

But Kenya’s errors especially in the scrum and at breakdowns came to haunt them with Hong Kong benefitting from two penalties in quick succession which Rosslee converted.

Hong Kong opened up a 13-point gap at the end of the first half after Kyle Sullivan’s try was converted by Rosslee for the visitors to lead 16-3.

The script remained the same in the second half with Rosslee slotting another penalty to take his side’s score to 19-3.

Two converted tries with no response stretched their lead to 33-6 with Kenya yet to get their feet on the ground.

Marcus Ramage touched down the first while substitute Alex Wai-Shing added another after Kenya lost possession from the scrum, with the burly sub barging over the try line. Rosslee converted both tries.

Kenya comeback

Kenya however started up what looked like a comeback with two converted tries. Full-back Tony Onyango bombed across the left drifting into the middle before dotting the ball over the line.

Scrum-half Samson Onsomu dazzled with another try, running across to the left and handing off his chaser before dotting down under the posts. Mukidza converted both as Kenya narrowed the gap to 33-20 in Hong Kong's favor.

But, another lapse in defense gifted Hong Kong a penalty and Rosslee converted.

Davis Chenge kept Kenya’s slim hopes of a comeback with the third try after Onsomu quickly started off a set piece, offloading to Chenge who powered across the line. Mukidza booted the extras.

Hong Kong responded, using their physique again to bully the Kenyans a few meters off the try line with Matt Lamming dotting down and Rosslee converting.

Mukidza who was largely Kenya’s best player of the afternoon alongside Onsomu responded late on with his own converted try, but it was too little too late.

Kenya squad

15. Tony Onyango, 14. Darwin Mukidza, 13. Peter KIlonzo (debut), 12. Leo Seje, 11. Jacob Ojee, 10. Isaac Adimo, 9. Samson Onsomu, 1. Moses Amusala, 2. Peter Karia, 3. Curtis Lilako, 4. Wilson Kopondo (captain), 5. Simon Muniafu, 6. Erick Kerre, 7. Davis Chenge, 8. Joshua Chisanga.

Replacements: 16. Philip Ikambili, 17. Oscar Simiyu, 18. Dennis Karani, 19. Oliver Mang’eni, 20. George Nyambua, 21. Lyle Asiligwa, 22. Dennis Muhanji, 23. Vincent Mose. 

Hong Kong

15: Liam Gallaher, 14 Robbie Keith, 13. Sam Purvis, 12. Lex Kaleca, 11. Marcus Ramage, 10. Matthew Rosslee, 9. Liam Slatem; 1. Ben Higgins, 2. Jamie Tsang, 3. Jack Parfitt, 4. Kyle Sullivan, 5. James Cunningham, 6. Nick Hewson (captain), 7. Matt Lamming, 8. Thomas Lamboley; Replacements: 16. Dayne Jans, 17. Dan Barlow, 18. Alex Ng Wai-shing, 19. Fin Field, 20. Tony Wong, 21. James Christie, 22. Evi Saua.