Junior Sables conquer Africa

Zimbabwe rugby players celebrate after they won the Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy against Kenya at Nyayo National Stadium yesterday

ZIM UNDER-20 . . . . . (21)28

KENYA UNDER-20… . . .(7)7

ZIMBABWE’S Under-20 rugby team secured back-to-back Rugby Africa Barthes Trophy titles following a comfortable 28-7 victory against Kenya in the final played in wet conditions at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi yesterday.

The victory ensured the Junior Sables maintained their position as the best African Under-20 team outside of South Africa.

It was also a morale-boosting victory for the Junior Sables ahead of their participation in the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy slated for July 15-30 in Nairobi.

After ruthlessly sweeping past Ivory Coast and Tunisia in the quarters and the semi-finals, victory did not come easily though for the Junior Sables as they were made to sweat for their win yesterday.

Zimbabwe stormed to a 21-0 lead inside the first 25 minutes through tries by wingers Edward Sigauke and Simbarashe Kanyangarara as well as centre Alex Nyamuda, while fullback Dion Khumalo slotted home the conversions.

Kenya fought back with a try from their skipper Laban Kipsang, which was the first try the Junior Sables conceded in the tournament having whipped Cote d’Ivoire 55-0 in the quarter-finals and Tunisia 60-6 in the semi-finals.

The hosts were at a disadvantage late in first half after Iddo Kuta and Geylord Ngasi were sin-binned for high tackles, but the Junior Sables were unable to capitalise as they went to the break with a 14-point lead.

The Junior Sables were reduced to 14 men for the last 30 minutes after loose forward Muzuva Gutu was red-carded, but did not make a difference for the Kenyans, who struggled to break down Zimbabwe’s resolute defence.

Sigauke capped off a memorable tournament by scoring Zimbabwe’s fourth try on the stroke of full-time, a few moments after his other try had been chalked off for a knock-on in the build-up.

In the end, the Junior Sables were deserved winners of the continental competition.

Namibia, who lost 19-14 against Zimbabwe in last year’s final, pulled off a superb comeback from 20-3 down to beat Tunisia 20-25 in sudden death during the third-place playoff match.

Cote d’Ivoire came from behind twice to dismiss Zambia In the day’s opening fixture to finish fifth, while Uganda avoided relegation from the Barthes Trophy following a 21-17 win against Madagascar in the seventh-place playoff.

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