NAIROBI, Kenya, July 14- Kenya are the Confederation of African Rugby Division 1A champions after stopping hard fighting Zimbabwe 29-17 in Madagascar on Sunday to reclaim the crown they last held in 2011.
The national 15s side got off to a great start with Joseph Kangethe scoring the opening try with barely a minute into the contest but Kenny Andola missed the conversion.
Nick Barasa extended Kenya’s lead for a 12-0 advantage as they continued to pressure their opponents but they were caught flat footed Tafadzwa Chitokwindo reduced the arrears to 12-5 by touching down on the corner flag.
The game settled down after a frenetic start but a Lenience Tambwera penalty brought scores down to 12-8 and after Andola missed from his boot, the same player would float another penalty between the sticks for 12-11.
A drop goal from Andola and a third penalty success from Tambwera took Kenya to the breather with a slim 15-14 advantage.
After failing to make their forays to Zimbabwe territory count at the start of the second, Kenya’s coach Jerome Paarwater brought on, Andrew Amonde for Joshua Chisanga, a move that saw Brian Nyikuli go to number eight with the national sevens captain taking up the blindside flank.
Oscar Ayodi was replaced by Fabian Olando with Ronnie Mwenesi coming on for Oliver Mang’eni.
Zimbabwe who were dominant at this point went ahead after a Kenyan infringement, Tambwera scoring his fourth penalty to put the Sables 17-15 up.
Kenya’s response was immediate, gaining possession and territory. They drove Zimbabwe back and Edwin Achayo was on the end of a rolling maul, touching down with Andola converting for a 22-17 Kenya lead.
The Rugby Lions would remain with the impetus, they looked to build on their lead and Barasa consequently landed his brace after a great retrieval from Mike Agevi who passed the ball on to Vincent Mose who beat the gain line before off loading to the try scorer.
Andola’s boot did the rest for a full time score of 29-17 with the side scheduled to arrive back home on Monday morning to a breakfast reception at a Nairobi hotel.
“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. Rest assured that this is just the beginning of a great time for Kenyan fifteens rugby.
“Head Coach Paarwater has worked wonders with the boys and Kudos to him. Beating Zimbabwe is no easy feat, and as we approach next year’s championships, we must keep the vision and the focus, the 2015 RWC is attainable,” team manager Wangila Simiyu said after the tie.
-Material sourced from Kenya Rugby Union