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Kenya Simbas win to stay on course for 2023 World Cup slot

Kenya Simbas players celebrate their victory against Zambia during their Rugby Africa Cup match at the Nyayo national stadium in Nairobi on July 11, 2021.

John Okoth landed a brace of tries to inspire Kenya Simbas to a thrilling 42-7 win over rivals Uganda in the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup quarter-final match at Stade Maurice David in France yesterday.

The Menengai Oilers star was joined on the scoresheet by debutants Bethwel Anami of Strathmore Leos and Teddy Akala of Kabras Sugar alongside Thomas Okeyo of University of Johannesburg and KCB scrum half Samwel Asati.

KCB full back Darwin Mukidza converted five of the tries while Fijian-born Kenyan international Jone Kubu split the post once after coming off the bench to finish off the Ugandans.

Jacob Ochen scored Uganda’s consolation try that was converted by former Kabras Sugar star full back Philip Wokorach.

Simbas will now play with either Senegal or Algeria in the semi-finals slated for Wednesday.

The Rugby Africa Cup knockout matches are doubling up as 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

The winner of the tournament scheduled to end on July 10 will get an automatic ticket to next year’s global event.

The losing finalist will still have a chance to secure their ticket to World Cup through the Final Qualification Tournament.

In yesterday’s match, Oilers centre Okoth gave Kenya an early 7-0 lead inside the opening three-minutes of the match after touching down before Mukidza added the extras.

Nine minutes later, South African-based Okeyo sprinted past a sleeping Ugandan defence to double the scores at 14-0 after Mukidza’s conversion.

A moment of skills and agility saw Asati dummy and sneak past the Ugandans to land a centre post try as Mukidza added his third conversion to stretch the lead to 21-0.

Moments before the break, debutant Anami ensured coach Paul Odera would go into halftime break a comfortable tactician after going over the try line for a healthy 28-0 halftime lead. In the final half, Okoth completed his brace after some swift play cutting through the Ugandans to land Kenya’s fifth try of the match and stretch the scores to 35-0.

Second half substitutes Akala and Kubu both from Kenya Cup champions Kabras Sugar combined to push the scores to 42-0 before Ochen got Uganda its lone try of the match.

On Friday, Namibia and Zimbabwe advanced to the semi-finals after winning their respective quarter-finals matches.

Namibia thrashed Burkina Faso 71-5 as Zimbabwe saw off Ivory Coast 38-11.

The two nations will meet in the semis on Wednesday.