Rugby: Kenya Simbas exit World Cup Repechage winless in Dubai

Martin Owilah of Kenya is tackled during the RWC 2023 Final Qualifying Tournament match between Portugal and Kenya at The Sevens Stadium. [World Rugby] 

Kenya ended the 2023 Rugby World Cup Final Qualification Tournament in fourth place after losing 22-18 to Hong Kong in their final match at the RWC 2023 Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai on Friday. 

The Simbas, with the extra man advantage following an early Hong Kong yellow, drove forward, John Okoth with a great running line from a Samuel Asati delivery to score the game’s opening try after 11 minutes.

Hong Kong responded with a converted try from big number eight Luke van der Smit to lead by two
points at the 20-minute mark.

Simbas grew in stature, taking the game to Hong Kong and landed their second try through Jacob Ojee with Geoff Ominde converting for a 12-7 lead after 31 minutes.

Ominde added two penalties late in the half as Simbas went 18-7 up at the interval.

Hong Kong made a change at the break, van der Smit was replaced by James Cunningham who gave them momentum to drive forward. Gregor McNeish drilled home a penalty to cut the deficit to 18-10.

Sean Taylor then pounced on McNeish’s cross kick to score at the corner, McNeish converting to make the game one pointer, the score 18-17 after 45 minutes.

An Ominde indiscretion on 54 minutes saw him binned, and moments later, winger Matthew Horley thought he had given Hong Kong the lead, only for referee Angus Gardner to cancel the try and give the Simbas the reprieve.

It was an anxious period of play with Ominde in the bin, the Simbas hanging on under sustained Hong Kong pressure.

Replacement hooker Jak Lam scored from a rolling maul to finally give Hong Kong the lead at 68 minutes.

A late Simbas rally was not enough as referee Gardner called for full-time to what was an enthralling encounter.

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