The road to the London 2015 Rugby World Cup started in earnest for Kenya 15s team on Sunday.
The Kenya Lions roared with power, strength and stamina to edge out 2012 champions Zimbabwe 29-17 and recapture the Confederation of Africa Rugby (CAR) Division 1A Cup also known as Africa Cup at the Mahamasina Municipal Stadium in Antananaravivo, Madagascar.
Kenya scored four tries and three conversions to reclaim the title they lost to Zimbabwe last year in Tunisia. Zimbabwe scored one try and four penalties.
Kenya went on the hunt early as eighth man Joshua Chisanga drew first blood with a try in the opening minute but fly half Kenny Andola missed the conversion. The physically rugged Kenyans stepped further on their gas pedal, with quick open play coupled with some lovely set-pieces.
Centre Nick Baraza scored Kenya’s second try when he intercepted a pass to slice through and land. Andola was right this time around with his boot to convert for a 12-0 lead. Zimbabwe would slowly knead their patterns together with their pack drilling forcefully into the Kenyan systems and it paid dividends when Tafadzwa Chitokwindo went for the flag to reduced the deficit at 5-12.
Then the game was to settle but with explosive end-to-end attacks but it’s Zimbabwe’s sustained pressure that saw Kenya’s defence lose structure to concede two penalties that saw Lenience Tambwera curl between the post to further bring Zimbabwe back in the game at 11-12.
Andola opted for a drop goal that stretched Kenya’s lead to 15-11 only for Tambwera to strike back with another penalty. However, Kenya stayed ahead 15-14 at the interval.
Started to dominate
The fit Kenyans then started to dominate reaching Zimbabwe’s 22 but without scoring. Kenya coach Jerome Paarwater was then forced to make changes. Kenya Sevens skipper Andrew Amonde was brought in for Chisanga. Amonde come in the flanking position with Brian Nyikuli moving to Chisanga’s position. Fabian Olando replaced Oscar Ayodi at outside centre while Ronnie Mwenesi came in for Oliver Mang’eni at lock.
Zimbabweans intention were well though with a well orchestrated push in the set-pieces but their stamina fell short to only take in a penalty that Tambwera scored to see them take the lead briefly 17-15.
Kenya was swift in response to claim some turn-over putting the ball into the drive to push Zimbabwe back. Scrum half Edwin Achayo was to perform his duties well at the end of a rolling maul to score before Andola converted from a tight angle for a 22-17 lead.
Barasa would land his brace of tries after superlative work out from winger Mike Agevi who offloaded to full back Vincent Mose. Mose was to put Barsa through for the winning try that Andola converted.
“We came here on a mission. We believed and we achieved. This is a victory not only for us, but for the entire Kenyan nation. We are thankful to the Kenya Rugby Union for their support and the belief in the team,” team manager Wangila Simiyu said.
Kenya team: 1.Joseph Kangethe, 2. Sammy Warui, 3. James Kangethe, 4.Oliver Mang’eni, 5. Wilson K’Opondo (captain), 6. Mike Okombe, 7.Brian Nyikuli, 8. Joshua Chisanga, 9. Edwin Achayo, 10. Kenny Andola, 11. Cyprian Kuto, 12. Nick Barasa, 13.Oscar Ayodi, 14. Mike Agevi, 15. Vincent Mose (vice-captain) Substitutes: 16. Curtis Lilako, 17. Isaiah Nyariki, 18. Dennis Karani, 19. Ronnie Mwenesi, 20. Andrew Amonde, 21. Gibson Weru, 22. Fabian Olando, 23. Isaac Adimo.