Anguish was all evident on the faces of Tunisian players as they walked out of the pitch following their humiliating 10-100 loss to Kenya Simbas in a Rugby Africa Gold Cup match at the RFUEA ground.
They openly shed tears and held each other’s hands just to remain strong as they walked past appreciative Kenyan fans.
It was their biggest loss ever and lock Saif Bousaada who spoke on behalf of the captain laid bare the cause of the huge defeat. He blamed it on the absence of experienced players playing professionally in France.
“To be honest, the score line was embarrassing. It is more embarrassing for the players who refused to come and play because we fielded the second team,” he said after the match noting their main intention is to remain in the top-tier.
“We cannot beat Kenya with the Tunisian league because rugby there is boring. I am not being negative but that is the truth.”
Bousaada was happy that with the few attacks they initiated, they came out with two tries.
Jerome Paarwater, the Kenya Simbas head coach said they expected a win but not the bloated scoreline.
“We played according to plan although there are some areas of concern,” he noted. “I was frustrated with the two tries we conceded but it’s fair because Tunisia came to play as well and score.”
Ojee stood out
Debutant center Leo Seje was named man-of-the-match and scored a try in the second half. But, it was winger Jacob Ojee who stood out from the Kenyan team.
He scored three tries and set up three others. So far, he leads with five tries after grabbing a brace against Uganda last month.
Houcem Khalfi wasted a penalty attempt early into the game for the visitors before Ojee opened scoring in the eighth minute.
It started from a lineout as Wilson K’Opondo fed Davies Chenge who powered through with a carry into the 22. Kenya then rucked thrice in succesion leading to the try converted by Darwin Mukidza.
He added a penalty, a try and a conversion for 17-0. Ojee made a big break on the left wing to set up the try.
An identical break by Ojee resulted in a try by David Ambunya and a conversion by Mukidza as Kenya went up 24-0 in the first 20 minutes of play.
Another big break by K’Opondo had Eric Kerre grab a try in the 24th minute before Khalfi touched down for Tunisia from a maul inside Kenya’s 22.
From the restart, Seje grabbed the ball to gain ground for Kenya with a carry. He offloaded to Samson Onsomu who was tackled by Ben Sofiene before crossing the line.
He gained his momentum to cross the ball over the line with Mukidza converting.
Joshua Chisanga then punished the Tunisians for giving him free attacking space. His break deep inside Kenya’s half was threatening and he went for the try with an individual run.
But, he could not withstand pressure from the chasing pack and decided to make an offload with no support in sight. Onsomu acted quickly to collect the ball and passed to Ojee who touched down.
Ashraf Dhif scored for Tunisia late in the half as Kenya led 41-10 at halftime.
Second half race for a century
In the second half, Kenya touched down a try after the other as the match turned out to be one-sided.
Martin Owila came off the bench to score twice, Mukidza and Kerre completed their brace with Seje and Steve Otieno scoring their debut tries in the half as well.
Tony Onyango touched down once with Mukidza kicking over five conversions while Kenny Andola added two.
There was anxiety in the closing minute when Kenya led 93-10 and the fans piled on pressure asking for a century.
They eventually got it in the 79th minute through a try by Ojee and conversion by Andola.
Kenya will play at home to Senegal next weekend while Tunisia travels to Uganda with Namibia hosting Zimbabwe. Senegal lost 0-95 to Namibia on Saturday.
Kenya: 15. Tony Onyango, 14. Darwin Mukidza, 13. David Ambunya, 12. Leo Sejje, 11. Jacob Ojee, 10. Isaac Adimo, 9. Samson Onsomu; 1. Moses Amusala, 2. Peter Karia, 3. Dennis Karani, 4. Wilson K’Opondo (captain), 5. George Nyambua, 6. Eric Kerre, 7. Davis Chenge, 8. Joshua Chisanga.
Replacements: 16. Philip Ikambili, 18. Oscar Simiyu, 19. Martin Owila, 20. Stephen Otieno, 21. Lyle Asiligwa, 22. Kenny Andola, 23. Dennis Muhanji.
Management: Jerome Paarwaters (head coach), Wangila Simiyu (team manager), Chris Makacha (physiotherapist).
Tunisia: 15 Bilal Souker, 14. Seifeddine Boussaada, 13. Mohamed Achref Dhif, 12. Dhia Ben Dhiab, 11. Ahmed Nasri, 10. Sofiene Ben Aicha, 9. Abdennaceur Missaoui; 1. Hamza Beji, 2. Hossem Khalfi, 3. Oubaidallah Daghfous, 4. Hichem Mokni, 5. Issam Werhani, 6. Naceurredine Mili, 7. Yahya Graa, 8. Nizar Nasri.
Replacements: 16. Mohammed Yassine Ben Abdallah, 17. Badie Dahmoul, 18. Seifeddine Ben Abderrahmen, 19. Achref Ben Hamouda, 20. Abbes Kherfani, 21. Sami Minsi, 22. Hamdi Mechri, 23. Hamza Mbarki.
Management: Belgacem Boughanmi (head coach), Mohamed Ali Hedi (team manager), Wael Ben Dhiab (physiotherapist).
Fixtures and results
June 24: Kenya 33 Uganda 33, Senegal 16 Zimbabwe 28.
July 1: Senegal 16 Uganda 17, Tunisia 7 Namibia 53.
July 8: Kenya 100 Tunisia 10, Namibia 95 Senegal 0.
July 15: Kenya v Senegal (Nairobi), Uganda v Tunisia (Kampala), Namibia v Zimbabwe (Windhoek).
July 22: Uganda v Namibia (Kampala), Zimbabwe v Kenya (Bulawayo).
July 29: Zimbabwe v Tunisia (Harare), Namibia v Kenya (Windhoek).
August 5: Uganda v Zimbabwe (Kampala), Tunisia v Senegal (Monastir).