Setting out against Tunisia, the Uganda Rugby Cranes knew there was no room for error. The North African opponents were scarred after conceding a century from their visit on the other side of the Elgon, and were expected to come around with vengeance written all over their game. Our boys were equal to the task, putting in a powerful shift that saw through a 78-17 victory and giving Uganda its first ever win over the team from Tunis. Three games over with, 7 places better on the world log and one point away from second place Kenya on the Gold Cup table, the Rugby Cranes have earned themselves a work free week, if any such reward were to exist.
The 2007 African champions set out on a tough road tour of the Gold Cup conquests earliest with dates set against the tough Kenyan Simbas and the brutal Senegalese outfit.
The first Gold Cup fixture of the Cranes came against Kenya in Nairobi and this fixture was even more animated, as it was the second of a two-legged yearly battle for the Elgon Mountain. The Kenyans had walked away with a slim victory in Uganda and hoped to do the same at home. At the RFUEA grounds, Ivan Magomu, Charles Uhuru, Pius Ogena, Brian Asaba and company had a particularly different idea. The Ugandans put up a very brave show and looked to take the victory and claim the mountain as well, leading 33-26 late on until they conceded an abysmal penalty try which was converted with ease, condemning the game to a draw. And the Kenyans, an aggregate win which assured them of the Elgon Mountain once again. On the other hand, this meant the first game of Gold Cup of either nations awarded them two points and zero point difference.
First forward to the unforgiving Western African Coast of Senegal, it was time to move on to game two. It had been a while before the two teams had met again as was the case with Kenya. Nonetheless, the lads lined up bravely against Senegal leading the game right before the break and saw it out to the end, to no amusement of the fans. Many lost their nails due to nerves trying to hold on for their countrymen. 80 minutes and a very bruising encounter later, it was a well-earned win for the visiting Ugandans.
The Cranes returned to applause from their faithful back home, sitting out the previous weekend as they recovered from bruises and beating inadvertently accrued at the hand of their opponents in Kenya and Senegal. The lads trained and readied themselves for a charge against Tunisia, and as seen yesterday, the rest was an extra spice to the already boiling hunger for a win.
A rejuvenated display from much criticized Full Back Phillip Wokorach saw him touch down thrice, create an assist for elder Micheal Wokorach, and slot in 8 conversions to bring his total game tally to 31 points. He was undoubtedly Man of The Match. The arena also saw veteran scrummers and former captains Alex Mubiru and Matthias Ochwo touchdown in teenage backliner styles on their 50th and 51st caps for Uganda, sending the crowd awash with jubilation. The tries list featured a host of other names, including Pius Ogena, Charles Uhuru, Solomon Okia, Ivan Magomu and James Odongo as the Cranes ran in 12 furious tries to register the tournament’s highest score of the day.
Note: Uganda now ranks 38th in World Rugby standings having gone on this tour in 45th position.