Uganda U20 celebrate after victory over Cote d'Ivoire Credit: Uganda Rugby Union/TW

The Uganda U20 men’s national team bagged their first win of the 2022 Barthes Trophy campaign, beating Cote d’Ivoire, 26-19, in the first placement semifinal.

The East Africans dominated the first half, enjoying superior position and territory, and kept the scoreboard ticking through the opening forty minutes.

Head coach Richard Lumu could not hide his joy during the post-match press conference.

“We are really, really, really happy for this win. I think the boys gave it their all and definitely, we came out on top,” he said.

Two penalties early on by captain Malcolm Daniel Okello were followed by a Joseph Kansiime Mwesigwa try in the corner. Then Okello converted a further three penalties to post a 20-00 score at the break.

Cote d’Ivoire had challenges with their set pieces and gave away multiple turnovers which enabled Uganda to punish them. Uganda were not perfect either, making uncharacteristic handling errors in attack and missing tackles in defence.

And after the break, Cote d’Ivoire capitalised on these errors by Uganda to put up a stiff challenge in the second half. Three tries by Oumarou Sigue, Coulibaly Agnib and Ahmed Gramoute brought the West Africans to within a converted try to level matters in the closing moments of the match.

However, Uganda held on for their dear lives to clinch their first win of the campaign and advance to the placement final.

Captain Malcolm Daniel Okello has already set his eyes on the next match which is four days away on Easter Sunday.

“We are really happy for the win and we are expecting more. We want to finish fifth on the table, and the boys are working hard to get more,” he said.

Having booked their place in next year’s edition of the Barthes Trophy with this win, Uganda will face Tunisia for a highest-possible fifth-position finish in the final.

This 5/6th placement match final will be played on Sunday morning at 11.30 p.m. at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Ernest Akorebirungi is an amateur rugby player and a keen follower of local Ugandan rugby.

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