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Simbas complete double over Zambia in Victoria Cup

Saturday August 24 2019

Kenya Simbas' Johnstone Mungau (left) is tackled by Zambia's Pason Kasonde during Victoria Cup rugby match at RFUEA ground on August 24, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |

Kenya Simbas' Johnstone Mungau (left) is tackled by Zambia's Pason Kasonde during Victoria Cup rugby match at RFUEA ground on August 24, 2019. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

AYUMBA AYODI
By AYUMBA AYODI
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Kenya Simbas Saturday withstood a battle of nerves touching down four tries to beat touring Zambia 31-16 in their Victoria Cup duel at the RFUEA grounds.

Tries from skipper tighthead prop Curtis Lilako, loosehead prop Oscar Sarano, eighthman Elkeans Musonye and flanker Brian Amaitsa were enough for the Simbas to dim the Chipolopolos.

Fullback Isaac Njoroge made a conversion and three penalties to seal the victory for Simbas who upheld their clean run against Chipolopolos whom they had beaten 43-23 in the first leg.

Laston Mukosa converted centre Edward Mukasa's try before slotting over three penalties but all was in vain.

The Zambians played a highly physical first half that was coupled with good defence to restrict the hosts to 18-13 at the break.

"We expected that kind of directness but they dealt with it well to keep our play wide for points," said Lilako. 

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However, the victory was all in vain after Zimbabwe beat Uganda 32-26 in Harare, Zimbabwe to retain the Victoria Cup with a match at hand against Kenya on August 31.

Kenya had banked on Cranes to beat Zimbabwe so as to set up a potential title-decider against Zimbabwe in the last match.

Kenya had beaten Zambia’s Chipolopolo 43-23 in Kitwe before losing to Zimbabwe 30-29 in Bulawayo on July 27 and August 3 respectively.

What also ruined the chances of Kenya winning Victoria Cup was their 16-13 loss to Uganda in the first leg before recovering to win 15-5 in Kampala, Uganda.

The two outings doubled up for Elgon Cup where the Simbas retained the title on superior aggregate.

That meant that Zimbabwe went into Saturday’s match without a loss while Kenya had two losses.

Head coach Paul Odera said they learnt more from their first leg encounter with Zimbabwe adding that there is still more to fight for even if Zimbabwe have retained the Victoria Cup.

“We shall need the 16th man, who are the fans to beat Zimbabwe. We are happy about the turnout against Zambia and we want them to come in numbers when we face the Sables,” said Odera.

However, Odera said that he is looking at the future for the Simbas as they target to qualify for the 2023 World Cup.

“I have used rookies in my Victoria Cup campaign and these young men are the future. We must be able to choose the best players from across the country,” said Odera. “Kudos to some of the older players like Lilako, Andrew Amonde and Jacob Ojee.”

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