Junior Sables in big win Champions Zimbabwe and Kenya are still unbeaten after they both saw off the challenges of Namibia and Tunisia at Harare Sports Club’s Machinery Exchange rugby stadium yesterday.

Tinashe Kusema

Zimbabwe Under-20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . (17) 35

Namibia Under-20 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (11) 23

THE match between hosts Zimbabwe and Kenya on Sunday may just be what the doctor ordered after both sides won their matches to set up an epic Barthes trophy rugby final. 

Champions Zimbabwe and Kenya are still unbeaten after they both saw off the challenges of Namibia and Tunisia at Harare Sports Club’s Machinery Exchange rugby stadium yesterday.

Now they face off looking for the title of African champions and more importantly, a place at the Junior World Trophy slated for July 1-17 in Scotland. 

In an earlier game, Kenya made light work of Tunisia thumping the North Africans 56-17 in the most one-sided affair the tournament has produced. 

After falling behind early to a Tunisian try, Kenya rallied from behind to equalise through Iddo Kuta’s converted try after which doubles from Michael Wamalwa and Alvin Khavoli, and a try each by Bramwell Anekeya, Willy Tino, and Brian Shile ensured a convincing win. 

Kenya’s power game proved effective as they bullied their smaller opponents into submission.

The match between Zimbabwe and Namibia then turned into a precursor of what Junior Sables coach Shaun De Souza and his charges will face on Sunday as the Young Welwitschias employ a similar game to Kenya, albeit with less size. 

To their credit, the Junior Sables held their own and defended like their lives depended on it. 

The hosts kept to their guns and employed their traditional running game to good effect and got on the score-board through tries from loose-head prop Emmanuel Gabi, winger Shammah Jackson, Emmanuel Magutakuona, and a sublime solo effort from their trusted talisman Edward Sigauke. 

Skipper Benoni Nhekairo chipped in with three conversions and a penalty. 

Replacement kicker Wayne Kunaka came on and added two more penalties, kicks that proved to be decisive as they came during the dying embers of the match when Namibia threatened to steal a win. In response, former Southern African champions Namibia got their points through tries by hooker Armand Combrink, winger Jurgen Meyer and fullback Liam Dick.

Flyhalf Petrus Tromp chipped in with two penalties. The encounter was the true definition of a match of two halves as Zimbabwe took early control of the contest courtesy of converted tries by Magutakuona, and Sigauke, and a penalty by Nhekairo. 

Their opponents found Zimbabwe’s defence unyielding as the best they could do was an unconverted try by Meyer and Tromp’s penalties. 

Zimbabwe’s only blemish was Vuyani Ncube getting sent to the sin bin after the centre lost his cool at the half-hour mark. 

Luckily for the Junior Sables, Namibia failed to take advantage of Ncube’s yellow card as they failed to put their numerical advantage to good use and put some points on the board. 

Namibia came back a totally different and more determined side after the breather and twice reduced the gap to six points. 

True to their character the hosts found a way to steer ahead, whether through a try by Jackson or Kunaka’s boot. 

De Souza was all smiles after the match and paid tribute to his charges’ much-improved performance. 

“The team performed to our expectations,” he said. 

“It’s a test match and Namibia is one of our biggest rivals in African rugby and we knew they were going to come guns blazing. 

“They are coached by a legend of the game, an ex-springbok coach and he took the Namibian senior team to a World Cup, Allister Coetzee.

“Credit to him and his boys, but I think I am happy with my boys’ performance. 

“The only blemish is probably the injuries and niggles we faced as we finished the game with 13 men after having used up all our substitutions,” he said.

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