Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . .(17) 25
Kenya . . . . . . . . . . . . . (12) 17
The Zimbabwe Under-19 rugby team set up an Africa Cup final showdown with Namibia on Saturday after a hard fought semi-final victory over Kenya at St George’s College yesterday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
With Namibia having convincingly dispatched Uganda 49-12 in the early semi-final, Zimbabwe knew they needed to make an early statement with a solid display against the Kenyans.
While the overall team performance was not up to scratch, the Young Sables still managed to get the job done, as they outscored the Kenyans by four tries to three.
Cheered on by an appreciative home crowd, the Young Sables got off to an impressive start, with winger Brian Matoramusha diving over in the corner twice in the first 10 minutes.
Kenya, who had been rattled by Zimbabwe’s early dominance, responded with a try from number eight Simon Okoth.
Centre Shingi Katsvere responded in style as he showed some silky skills to cut through the Kenyan defence before diving under the posts.
Having missed the first two conversions, fly half Joshua Gando added the extras to give the hosts a 17-5 lead inside the first 25 minutes.
With the momentum clearly in their favour, the Young Sables were guilty of missing too many tackles in the latter stages of the first half, which allowed Kenya to claw their way back into the match.
Scrumhalf Charles Kakai took his team within five points of Zimbabwe’s lead with a converted try as Kenya made use of the numerical advantage after loose foward Martin Shioma was sent to the sin-bin.
After a lethargic finish to the first half, Zimbabwe needed a solid start after the break and Earnest Mudzengerere provided that with a moment of brilliance.
With Gando missing the conversion, Kenya yet again reduced the deficit to five points after another try by fly half Anthony Adhiambo.
The Young Sables fly half, however, made amends with a close-range penalty to give the home side an eight-point lead with less than 10 minutes left in the match.
Young Sables coach Brendon Brider admitted his charges needed a better performance against Namibia on Saturday.
“We came to win for us to play in the final and we won, but technically and tactically, I wasn’t impressed.
Thankfully, the guys came through and got the result we needed. The people who came to watch made a huge difference. We need to sort out the defence, we leaked some very soft tries and also need to tidy up our set-piece ahead of the Namibia game.”