Kenya Simba’s claimed an all important 41 – 22 win against rivals Zimbabwe Sables at Hartsfield Grounds in Bulawayo.
The Simbas’ forwards were in a bullish mood. Such was their dominance that they accounted for all five tries with prop Moses Amasula, locks Simon Mumafu and Wilson Kopondo, flank Davis Chenge and replacement forward George Nyambuya all getting on the score sheet. Wing Darwin Mukidza weighed in with two penalty goals and five conversions.
The home side scored three tries through halfback Hilton Mudariki, wing Takudzwa Kumadiro and flanker Connor Pritchard. Flyhalf Tichafara Makwanya added two conversions and a penalty goal.
The hosts will be disappointed with the manner in which their forwards were bullied after getting the measure of Namibia just seven days before in Windhoek. Head Coach Cyprian Mandenge was visibly disappointed and was at a loss for words in the post match interviews.
And rightly so.
The match began with the hosts failing to recover their own kick off and the Kenyans took play deep into the Zimbabwean half before they won a penalty, duly converted by Mukidza.
The hosts then gave their supporters a glimmer of hope when the wily Mudariki spotted a burly Kenyan forward who had lost his alignment on the skirts of a ruck and darted through to score the first try of the match under the posts.
With the electric Kenyan backline uncharacteristically subdued, the Kenyan pack stood up in a big way. They won a lineout just inside the hosts’ 22 before shifting the ball and driving the maul over the line for Amasula’s try.
Zimbabwe will be disappointed with the way their forwards entered that maul-high body alignment and with their heads tucked in, this meant they couldn’t react to that switch in the maul. To their credit, the Simba pack were able to score a second try using the exact same drive for Mumafu’s try.
The three remaining Kenyan tries were a result of the Simbas’ ability to exploit broken play, something that should interest the Ugandan Cranes, who host the Sables in Kampala on the final day.
It was not all doom and gloom for the Sables, though. There are a number of positives to build from. The backline dominated the Kenyans in defence with
midfielders Daniel Capsopoulos and Gavin Nyahwata solid and uncompromising. Wingers Stephan Hunduza and rookie Kumadiro looked hungry for action and got a number of touches on the ball. Capsopoulos always looked for the defender with the inside shoulder turned early but the Kenyan drift held firm.
Kenya now go to Windhoek with a really good chance of winning the championship that has for so many years eluded them. They will be quietly confident of upsetting the defending champions who also had a good day in Kampala against Uganda.
Credit : Kyros Sports