Defending champions and hosts Zimbabwe kept a clean sheet in their Victoria Cup campaign when they edged out visiting Kenya Simbas 30-29 at Hartfield Stadium, Bulawayo on Saturday.
Flanker Monate Akuei scored a brace of tries as Anthony Odhiambo, Elkeans Musonye and Johnstone Mung'au added a try each. but all was in vain for the resurgent Simbas.
It was Simbas’ first defeat to the Sables since 2015 during the Africa Gold Cup.
Zimbabwe had previously beaten Zambia 39-10 and Uganda 31-26, while Kenya claimed see-saw result against Uganda, losing the first leg 16-13, before winning the second leg 15-5. They would then beat Zambia 43-23 Saturday last week.
The bullish Sables stormed into a 10-0 lead in the first 20 minutes, but the Simbas turned in the screws when Mung’au intercepted to play it to Monate to land the Simbas first try of the match.
Jacob Ojee failed to add the extras as Zimbabwe, who stayed ahead, landed a corner post try with the conversion perfectly to strength their lead to 17-5.
Odhiambo hit back for the Simbas with a try before Samson Onsomu cleared the ruck to put Monate through to dive for a centre post try. Charles Kuka converted to tie that match 17-17 at the drinks.
The Simbas opened the second half with two tries from Musonye and Mung'au. Musonye sliced through Zimbabwean defence to score as skipper Peter Kilonzo fed Mung’au to land his maiden try.
Odhiambo made one conversion.
However, the Sables curled over two penalties and a converted try to lead Simbas by one point at 30-29, a lead they upheld to the end.
The Simbas will face Zimbabwe in the return leg on September 21, while the return leg against Zambia is on August 24 at the RFUEA Grounds.