Kenya rugby XV shock Zimbabwe


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Sept 30 2002

Kenya won back bragging rights for regional rugby with their 19-12 victory against Zimbabwe at the Rugby Football Union of East Africa ground on Sunday. It was the first match between the two countries that Kenya has won for the better part of the last two decades. 

Before a sizeable crowd, the Kenya team, enjoying a renaissance after good seven-a-side performances all year long and an 18-13 win away against Cameroon in the Confederation of African Rugby Six Nations championship, laid to rest the ghost that has haunted them all these years. 

Ulinzi flanker Dennis Mwanja, one of the new heroes of the Kenya Sevens team, who were runners-up to Portugal at the Singer-Sri Lanka Airlines Sevens, scored the first try in the first quarter of the match, following a Steve Gichuki penalty in the opening minutes. 

Gichuki, captain and flanker Benjamin Ayimba, wingers Mitch Ocholla and Oscar Osir and Centre Charles Cardovillis were drafted from the sevens team but, otherwise, the squad had a new look. For some of the players this was their first full international. 

Only one other try was to be scored all match long, by Kenya Commercial Bank prop Derrick Wamalwa, who at 19, was one of the youngest members of the side, but whose selection on merit justified itself with his strong performance in the set pieces. Zimbabwe landed four penalties, two on either side of the break. 

The Kenyans' big match temperament was apparent from the opening minutes. This was a team that had come of age. 

Ian Simiyu, the Impala fullback who in his first year of club rugby earned national team selection gathered a pass on the end of a line move that was going left from a set piece on the right side of the field and rounded one defender before kicking into touch and taking a tackle. Kenya stole the lineout ball and from the resultant maul a quick ball was fed to Emmanuel Shitote who came into the gap at pace before being tackled, but not before dishing off to Mwanja who scored without opposition.

Lock Steve Obondi tries to bring down a Zim player as scrum half Moses Kola runs in support

For Kenya's second try, a rolling maul inside the Zimbabwe 22 metre line saw Wamalwa pick up a loose ball and scoot around the right side of the breakdown to score. 

Kenya dominated the scrummaging, but Zimbabwe had the edge in the rucks, recycling the ball and using their second rows and centres to crash through the middle. The ferocity of the defence on both sides meant that both fly-halves kicked for territorial advantage more than they either passed or ran. This gave the wingers on both sides plenty of opportunity to show their counter attacking skills, although Kenya had more attacking flair out wide. 


Zimbabwe made a late rally and showed promise of crossing the Kenyan try-line as the clock ticked away the dying minutes but Kenya's defence was a wall of determination. Gichuki kicked a penalty to consolidate the win. Kenya meet Uganda in their second and final Six Nations match, against Uganda at the R.F.U.E.A ground on October 5. 

Earlier Sunday, the second mini-rugby tournament of the year was held with Toi Primary School "A" emerging winners after beating Shadrack Kimalel Primary "A" in the final. In the curtain raiser to the main match, Lenana School beat Alliance High School 17-8. Fly half Dan Arthur, open-side winger Alfrick Koech and blind-side winger Jerry Ogallo scored a try each. Scrum half Peter Ochola kicked a conversion. Alliance winger Dennis Mogusu scored a try and second row Edward Okello kicked a penalty.



Courtesy of Buzzle editorials