Liam Walker who came on as a substitute was the unlikely hero as Uganda men’s national rugby XVs team, Rugby Cranes beat Kenya Simbas 21-20 to win the Victoria Cup on Sunday at Kings Park Arena in Bweyogerere, Kampala.
Walker’s penalty kick at the death secured a one-point win for the home side and a maiden Victoria Cup victory in the title decider having beaten Zambia in the three-team tournament at the same venue a week ago.
It was Kenya who had a good start to the match that began with a minute of silence for former Kenya Simbas player Edward “Ogre” Kinyany who passed away on October 24 and laid to rest last weekend.
Just 10 minutes into the game, the Simbas were roaring very loud and were up by 12 points through tries from Alfred Orege and Joel Inzuga, with John Kubu converting the latter’s try.
The home side was fired up by a partisan crowd and moments later they got their first points. Skipper Ivan Magomu placed his penalty in between the sticks to make it 03-12 after foul play from Kenya’s Walter Okoth.
A few moments later, Magomu made it 06-12 reducing Simbas lead half after a successful penalty. The home side was awarded a scrum after a forward pass by Kenya but the latter collapsed at the scrum and Magomu went went for the sticks and he did just right.
Heading into half time, Rugby Cranes secured their first try through Conrad Wanyama who took advantage of unmarked territory to touch down. Magomu stepped up to utilize the extras and his kick was successful, earning his side a 13-12 lead after 40 minutes.
In the second half, the start seemed not entertaining with both sides taking care of their own territories hence no points were recorded, not until the 57th minute when Kubu reinstated Kenya’s lead through a penalty kick after Uganda were punished for a knock-on.
The home fans were left unsettled following a sequence of missed points (12) through Magomu’s kicks
It was untill Joseph Oyet scored a diving try that the home side regained their lead (18-15). The extras were missed but the home side who at this point had a one-man advantage seemed to be poised for glory.
However, Joel Inzuga reinstated Kenya’s lead when he touched down for the second time in the game earning his side a 20-18 advantage.
However, at the death, Rugby Cranes were awarded a penalty following a high tackle from the Kenyans. In what later turned out to be the last kick of the match, it was Liam Walker who stepped up and successfully put the ball in between the sticks to earn his side a 21-20 victory.
The match also doubled as the first leg of the Elgon Cup between Uganda and Kenya. The return leg is slated for 11th November in Kisumu. The Simbas have dominated the annual tournament with the Rugby Cranes last win coming in 2012.