A Liam Walker penalty handed the Uganda Rugby Cranes a 21-20 victory over the Kenya Simbas to clinch the 2023 Victoria Cup at King’s Park Arena in Bweyogerere on Sunday evening.
Uganda had a faul start with Kenya apllying a lot of pressure and just after seven minutes of play, they scored their first try but John Kuvu Tavaga failed to convert.
Three minutes later. Joel Inzuga was flying over the try line like a sky diver for Kenya’s second try. This time Jone Kubu Tavaga made no mistake from the conversion making it 12 for Kenya.
At this moment, you could have held a discussion a friend from across the pitch. King’s Park was that quiet.
Cranes Captain Ivan Magomu converted a penalty to gift Uganda it’s first points, just like he did against Zambia making it 3 – 12.
Magomu was on the spot again after a scrum penalty against Kenya, to make it 6 for Uganda but put his 3rd penalty wide.
Jacob ocen won a turn over and Conrad Wanyama in a flash made the first try for Uganda. The Kenyans only saw him on the ground, they were caught off guard. Magomu calmly converted to put Uganda in the lead for the first time of the game at 13 – 12 Heading into the first half.
Ounce again the Cranes were on the back foot at the start of the second half. After 12 minutes, Kenya’s man of the match against Zambia, John Kubu Tavaga scored a penalty to put the Simbas upfront on 15, the crowd was becoming impentient with Magomu missing another penalty.
Cranes Coach Fred Mudoola made his first changes bringing on Nathan Bwambale and Robert aziku on for Eliphaz Emong and Faragi Odugo.
With every eye in Bweyogerere on Magomu for to convert his penalty, he kicked wide again, his 3rd miss.
But after chants from fans “we want another try, just like the other one.” Cranes listened Timothy Kisiga danced, Ivan with a fine pass to Joseph Oyet on whose try Liam walker converted 4 minutes after walking on for Eric Mulamula. Uganda leading again at 18 – 15.
Only 2 minutes later, Kenya’s Joel Inzunga made a try to put the Simbas on 20 but John Kubu Tavaga missed the conversion.
After bringing on Alfred Kidega for assistant captain Byron Oketayot Fred Mudoola threw on his last dice Alhaji Manano for the recent try scorer Joseph Oyet.
And there came the moment of the game. Uganda’s man of the match against Zambia, Timothy Kisiga won a penalty in the dying minutes.
Liam Walker stepped forward with a chance to write his name in the hearts of the Ugandan Rugby fans and he did exactly that, with the very last action of the game gifting Uganda with a point lead, just enough to grab the win out of the hands of the Kenyan neighbours.
Merely a magical moment that saw fans ran onto the pitch in celebration and the DJ playing King Saha’s Mulirwana.
The victory meant Uganda were the winners of this year’s Victoria Cup but Cranes captain Ivan Magomu had more to celebrate than lifting the trophy after he was voted the tournament MVP and top score with 16 points, Kenya’s Joel Izunga was the top try scorer.
This is a four year project, we are just getting started and if we can go on like this, we shall shock many teams in the world.” – Ivan Magomu on the win.
This was also the first leg of this year’s Elgon Cup, the rematch will be next Saturday 11th November, 2023 at the Mambo Leo grounds of the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium.
After this game, Micheal Wokorach had played 53 games for the Rugby National team, making him the most capped ahead of Mathias Ochow at 52.