Kenya fought back from a 14-0 deficit to draw
with Hong Kong, 19-19, in the opening match of the two-test
series in Nairobi on Sunday.
Both sides blooded a number of new
players, Kenya having made 17 changes to the squad since its last
outing in the Africa Gold Cup earlier this summer, but Hong Kong
had the more cohesive performance asking early questions of the
Kenyan defence as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead after just 13
The visitors’ stranglehold on the lead was
helped by the loss of Kenya’s first-choice flyhalf Biko Adema to
an ankle injury early on in the proceedings with Kenny Andola
coming on as a replacement in the fifth minute before struggling
to a two-for-five performance with the boot.
Parfitt opened the scoring with a try in the seventh minute with
flyhalf Matt Rosslee’s conversion pushing the margin to 7-0,
before centre Tyler Spitz added to the tally with a try in the
12th minute. Rosslee’s successful conversion gave Hong Kong a 14-0
Captain George Nyambua replied for Kenya with a try
in the 19th minute finishing a good period of possession by the
Kenyan pack. Andola slotted the conversion to narrow the margin to
14-7 but missed a drop goal attempt later in the half that would
have further narrowed the gap.
matters for the hosts, centre Patrice Agunda was sent to the
sin-bin late in the half, but Hong Kong was unable to convert the
opportunity into points with Robbie Keith’s penalty attempt
Neither side could shake the other for much of
the match, but buoyed by a 5,000 strong crowd at the RFUEA Ground
in Nairobi, the hosts took advantage of their opportunities out
wide, putting winger Alex Olaba, also making his international
debut, over late in the half.
Olaba’s try came off of a
blind-side charge started by captain Nyambau. Andola’s conversion
attempt was unsuccessful, leaving Kenya two points adrift of the
lead heading into half-time (14-12).
Shortly after the
break, Hong Kong widened its lead after scrumhalf Liam Slatem
scored on his international debut, pushing Hong Kong’s margin to
19-12 after Rosslee’s conversion attempt missed. Slatem showed
good awareness when he pounced on a loose ball at the breakdown
and raced 50-metres for the try.
After Slatem’s try, coach
Leigh Jones turned to his bench, bringing on Alex Ng Wai-shing in
place of try-scorer Parfitt. Ng marked his 50th cap, further
extending his record number of caps for Hong Kong, post-1997.
Kenya had another chance to take the lead after referee Egon
Seconds awarded the hosts a penalty in striking distance but
Andola’s kick was again off-target.
The frenetic Kenyans
broke through in the 63rd minute after right winger Dennis Muhanji
delighted the 5,000-strong crowd at the RFUEA Ground bringing the
hosts to within two points.
Despite a rough two-for-five
outing with the boot, Andola slotted the one conversion that
counted levelling the scores with 18 minutes remaining.
Both sides threw everything they had into the attack in the final
quarter but neither team was able to add to the totals leaving the
test match drawn at full-time.
Five players earned first
caps for Hong Kong in the outing, try-scorers Purvis and Slatem,
fullback Liam Gallaher, prop Dan Barlow and loose forward Pierce Mackinlay-West. Liam Owens and James Christie were not used off
The two sides will meet again on Saturday, 26
August, in the second test.
Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens,
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Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong
Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015,
Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong
Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015,
Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong,
Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014,
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Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.
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