Kenya continued its march towards the 2015 rugby world cup when they pumelled Madagascar 34-0 in emphatic fashion. The margin of victory is impressive. But even more impressive is the fact that Kenya fielded what was essentially a second string side after coach Jerome Paarwater opted to rest 11 players who featured against Namibia. Also impressive is the fact that Kenya faced did this in the face of huge raucous amd partisan crowd of 30,000 at the Mahamasina stadium in Antananarivo.
Kenya had never beaten Madagascar before. The two teams had faced each other three times before resulting in 1 draw and 2 wins for Madagascar. The first time these two teams met was at the 1987 4th All African games that was held in Nairobi. In football, Kenya beat Madagascar 2-1. Rugby fans expected the same. Kenya was fielding a strong team that had among others Michael “Tank” Otieno at full back and loose forward “Mad” Max Muniafu and other legends. But Kenya were shocked the pacy Madagascans who ran away 22-16 winners much to the surprise of the crowd at RFUEA grounds.
The second time they met was in 2001 at the Mahamasina stadium during the qualifiers for the 2003 world cup. Kenya put on a valiant effort but Madagascar, buoyed by the large home crowd won 27-20.
The two teams met for a third time in 2005 during the qualifiers for the 2007 rugby world cup. The match was played in Kenya. The home crowd expected Kenya to record their first ever win over the Indian ocean islanders. But they were disappointed again as the Madagascans fought valiantly to force a 24-24 draw.
Kenya rugby fans have thus had to wait for 27 years to beat pacy islanders and when it finally , it came in emphatic fashion with a spectacular 34-0 win.
Kenya were dominant in the set piece and up front as they battered the hosts with Joshua Chisanga, Maxwell Adaka and Oliver Mangeni leading the onslaught.
Their dominance paid dividends in the 12th minute when Chisanga picked up the ball from the scrum and evaded two tackles before touching down. Andola kicked over the conversion to widen the lead to 12-0.
Madagascar had no answer for the power Kenya had in the forwards and tried to play a running game midway through the half. They were, however kept in check by the Kenyan defence led Humphrey Kayange. Mwenesi, who had a superb game in the pack and in the lose, scored his second try from a line-out as Kenya extended the lead to 17-0.
Former Kenya Sevens skipper Humphrey Kayange then intercepted a loose pass from the hosts to touch down for an unconverted try. Mwenesi completed his hat-trick just before the interval with a well taken try to extend the lead to 27-0 at the break. On resumption, Madagascar put up a fight and but the Kenyans had other ideas and looked dangerous with ball in hand in attack.
The game then degenerated into an ugly brawl as match referee Luke Pearce sent Madagascar hooker Hasina Rakotoaveli and winger Dennis Muhanji to the sin bin in the 57th minute with both sides reduced to 14 men. Muhanji suffered thew consequences after retaliating to punch thrown at him by Malagasy player in the melee.
From then on, the match was scrappy with neither team dominating, though Kenya came close with substitute Martin Owila almost scoring a try. Chisanga completed the scoring in the closing minutes from a rolling maul with Lyle Asiligwa kicking over the conversion to close out the match. In the early match, Namibia revived their hopes of qualification with a 24-20 win over Zimbabwe.
Kenya line-up: 15. Michael Agevi, 14. Collins Injera, 13. Humphrey Kayange, 12. Nick Barasa, 11. Dennis Muhanji, 10. Ken Andola, 9. Lyle Asiligwa, 8. Joshua Chisanga, 7. Davis Chenge (Martin Owila), 6. Andrew Amonde (captain), 5. Oliver Mang’eni, 4. Ronnie Mwenesi, 3. Moses Amusala, 2. Maxwell Adaka (Sammy Warui), 1. Curtis Lilako.
Additional reporting courtesy of the The star