Victoria Cup title gives Rugby Cranes lifeline

Uganda Rugby Cranes celebrate after winning the Victoria Cup after defeating Kenya 21-20 at Kings Park. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE

What you need to know:

After both Uganda and Kenya getting the better of Zambia earlier in the week, it came down to who would win Sunday's decider.

All eyes have been on the Rugby Cranes for the last two months as they prepared to return into action at home in four years with Victoria Cup being hosted in Uganda.

Zambia and Kenya made their way to Uganda to revive the the tournament and it lived up to the hype. Uganda's 21-20 nerve wrecking victory over Kenya yesterday at Kings Park Arena, Bweyogerere, thanks to a Liam Walker penalty at the death, was the icing on the cake for what also doubled as the Elgon Cup first leg.

After both Uganda and Kenya getting the better of Zambia earlier in the week, it came down to who would win Sunday's decider.
Kenya had the better start with a 12-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game with a Teddy Akala try from a maul, converted by Joney Kubu.

Winger and the tournament's top try scorer Joel Izunga added another try to silence the home crowd. Captain Ivan Magomu responded with two penalties to make it 12-6.

Quick thinking from scrumhalf Conrad Wanyama saw him sneak in for a try which was converted by Magomu to give Uganda a 13-12 advantage at the break.

Kubu's penalty restored Kenya's to 15-13 after break but Uganda produced a well crafted try that had fullback Timothy Kisiga somehow find Magomu who offloaded to Joseph Oyet to dot down and reinstate Uganda's lead to 18-15.

Before the Ugandan faithful could settle down, Izunga got his second try to put Kenya ahead 20-18. A late penalty saw Walker stand out and sent the Kings Park roof off with a penalty for a famous 21-20 win.

"Defence and the mobility of the back row won us this game. We also improved on many things from the Zambia game," said Rugby Cranes coach Fred Mudoola.

His Kenya counterpart Carlos Katywa had no sweet words for his troops. "Our setpieces were poor , we gave away alot of penalties and over turned over that ball. There's alot to be worked on because we did not show up," he said.

The two sides meet on Saturday in Kisumu for the second leg of the Elgon Cup. 

Man of the match Eliphaz Emong who plies his trade in Kenya with Kabras Sugar thinks the win and silverware is a big statement the Rugby Cranes can build on.

For sometime, the Rugby Cranes 7s have hogged all the headlines with test rugby losing clout. There's a four year project in place to revive the test rugby and this could be the much needed lifeline.