A man of the match performance from winger Peter Abuoga guided Kenya to their first ever win in Zimbabwe, coming off tops 23-18 in their final Victoria Cup clash at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday. The win meant Kenya completed the grand slam over their Victoria Cup rivals, winning all their four matches as they ended the tournament with a 100% record.
The Zimbabwe Rugby Union's Solomon Mutasa picks up the rest of the story
Kenya won the toss and chose to kick, and started the more spritely side with Peter Abuoga making an early searching run in the home side's half.
Three minutes into the match ,a kick for touch by Kenya was charged and Kenyan defensive scrambling led to a penalty ,which was converted by fly half Tichafara Makwanya. Two minutes Makwanya fumbled a loose ball in his 22m zone which led to young Kenya centre David Ambunya pouncing to score an opportunistic first try of the match.
Scrum half Moses Kola failed to convert the resultant kick.
Sustained Sables pressure from the game's first Zim scrum resulted in another Kenya infringement which penalty Makwanya converted for a Zim 6-5 lead. Kenyan winger Vincent Mose would then beat four opponents but dropped the ball with the tryline begging.
Kola retook the lead for Kenya with a penalty on twenty six minutes, Zim trailed Kenya 6-8 before Tafadzwa Mhende scored, a try after a scrum turnover and brilliant backs running marshalled by Makwanya. Makwanya failed to convert the try. as Zim now led 13-8.Captain Rockface Gurumani would then add to the growing misery of the visitors by capping his good runs with a try at the stroke of half time. Makwanya converted for an 18 – 8 scoreline at the break.
A series of substitutions on both sides brought fresh offensive and defensive impetus to the game but no score until the 67th minute. Kenya began clawing on the scoreboard with a Kola penalty. Score: 18 – 11.
Kenya immediately became more urgent and after four phases from a retrieved kickoff, scored a close quarter try through backrow substitute David Mogere. Abuoga's conversion tied the score at 18-18 with 11 minutes to spare.
A minute later, Innocent "Namcos" Simiyu gathered a high ball, made a deep counter attacking run and from a series of quick phases and passes,Abuoga completed his man of the match performance with a try at the corner. 23-18, final score.
"This was my sixth appearance for my country and it is a pleasure to be honoured here, but I feel I can still play a lot better and so will work to improve ahead of the Africa Cup matches" said Abuoga after the match.
The Sables coach, Brandon Dawson, was disappointed with his team's performance saying "We missed tackles and got off the gas pedal with a seemingly comfortable half time lead. We will regroup and be ready for next Saturday's match and the Africa Cup semis"
The winning tactician, Michael "Tank" Otieno, praised his team for a disciplined show full of character. "We are getting out of the shadow of the Kenya Sevens team with the support we are getting and the manner the team is playing. It's also a very special day for me having
played my last international here losing 56-9 in 1989 and finally breaking the jinx of Kenya winning in Zim"
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