The Kenya Simbas retained the Elgon Cup after a 56-51 aggregate score following Saturday’s 33-33 draw with the Rugby Cranes at the RFUEA Grounds.
Kenya beat Uganda 23-18 in the first leg in Kampala a fortnight ago and needed to avoid defeat to lift the cup.
The task in the return leg, also the first game of the Africa Gold Cup, seemed much harder than the home side had anticipated.
Jerome Paarwater’s charges trailed 26-33 in the last minute of play but benefited from a last gasp penalty try to draw level and secure the Elgon Cup.
Newcastle Falcons back-row Joshua Chisanga was fouled on his way to the try line and the visitors were penalized.
Substitute Adnan Mutebi knocked the ball forward as Uganda pushed for the final punch and the Kenyans cleared their line by kicking the ball out to end the nerve wrecking encounter.
While Kenya will celebrate the Elgon Cup victory though, head coach Paarwater admitted his charges need to work hard if they are to reach the World Cup.
Simbas captain Darwin Mukidza scored three penalties while Jacob Ojee scored two tries on the day.
Philip Wokorach, named man of the match, was Uganda’s top performer with his lethal boot delivering a much needed result to start the Gold Cup quest.
Uganda took the early lead through Wokorach’s penalty.
Wokorach combined well with Mathias Ochwo to set up Charles Uhuru who who crossed the white line for a 8-0 lead. Wokorach converted for a 10-0 lead to momentarily silence the home crowd.
Mukidza drilled in a penalty for the home side to restore the fans’ confidence.
The Simbas fought back and Ojee and Moses Amusala touched down home tries to get back into the game.
Wokorach and Mukidza traded penalties and the home side went into the half time break with a slim 3-point lead (16-13).
Brian Asaba and Michael Wokorach touched down for Uganda in the second half but what looked like a first win for Uganda on Kenyan soil since 2013 turned into a draw after a late penalty try was awarded to the home side.
Kenya will not have much time to celebrate the Elgon Cup victory as they prepare to face Tunisia in the second game of the Gold Cup next weekend.
Uganda face Senegal in their next game of the continental championship.