Sables survive Simbas scare

HARARE - Zimbabwe rugby team yesterday weathered the tide of fatigue and inadequate preparedness to edge Kenya 28-20 to get their Africa Cup campaign off to a flying start.

Flank Andrew Rose and eighthman Kingsley Lang were the few bright sparks in Zimbabwe’s pack that was clearly overwhelmed by the Kenyans. 

Scrumhalf Charles Jiji and fullback Tangai Nemadire, also showed promise, albeit in patches, in a Zimbabwean side that was far from its best.

The hosts looked like they would have a comfortable afternoon over the East Africans, after a great start that saw them race into an early 17-0 lead through converted tries from lock Sanele Sibanda, centre Rian O'Neill and a penalty from flyhalf  Tichafara Makwanya.

But that was just a false dawn as Kenya, who refused to be cowed by the southern African nation soon began to find their rhythm.

The Simbas had their tails up after reducing arrears through a converted try from wing Jacob Ojee.

Zimbabwe were now out of sorts and even a mazy run from Tafadzwa Chitokwindo failed to yield all five points when he knocked on right on the try line.

The wing had done all the hard work running half the length of the filed while breaking all the Kenyan tackles.

Kenya kept fighting back through tries from wing Darwin Mukidza and eighth-man Joshua Chisango who was constantly going over the advantage line with relative ease.

The two sides went to the breather evenly poised at 17-17.

That Zimbabwe had only had a week-long training camp began to show as their tight five was struggling at the breakdown and mauls, a department they have dominated the Kenyans in recent years.

Despite not firing from all cylinders, the Sables surged ahead through fly half Makwanya’s three pointer to take the match to 20-17.

Makwanya’s distribution may have left a lot to be desired but his kicking game was impressive as he barely put a foot wrong whilst going for posts.

Chitokwindo calmed Zimbabwe’s nerves, diving over the whitewash to plant the hosts’ final try of the encounter.

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