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Lionesses beat Uganda to inch closer to 2021 World Cup

RUGBY By Clement Wekulo | August 14th 2019 | 2 min read
Fresha Awino (left) of Top Fry Nakuru battles for the ball with Christabel Lindo Tata of Northern Suburbs during the Great Rift 10 Aside at Nakuru Athletics Club (NAC ) on March 30, 2018. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

National women’s rugby 15s team, Lionesses, registered their second win at the Africa Women’s Cup after overcoming Uganda 37-5 at the Bosman Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, yesterday.

Grace Adhiambo and Janet Okello scored two tries each with the former also kicking five points as Stacy Atieno and Sheila Chajira also inked their names on the score sheet for the Lionesses. Uganda’s Lady Cranes scored through an unconverted try.

The result in the South African city marked Kenya’s third win over Uganda in two months, the Lionesses having beaten their East African neighbours home and away in the Elgon Cup.

With the round-robin tournament acting as a qualifying event for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the Kenyan ladies, who beat Madagascar in their opening match, are now on the brink of securing a spot at the global showpiece.

But to qualify for their maiden World Cup, the Felix Oloo-coached Lionesses have to upset the odds when they face a tough South Africa side in their final fixture on Saturday. Anything short of a win against the hosts, who are ranked 11th globally,  will see the Kenyans finish second at the four-team competition thus booking a date with South American opposition in a one-off playoff whose winner will then be handed a second chance to qualify for the World Cup via a repechage.

Teams that finished in the top seven at the 2017 World Cup, among them, hosts New Zealand, are exempted from the qualifiers. The others include Australia, Wales, England, Canada, France and the USA.

In yesterday’s East African derby, a dull opening half saw the Lionesses, who had rung a number of changes to their starting line up, take a slender 3-0 lead at half time courtesy of a Grace Adhiambo penalty.

Handed a starting berth at the expense of Mitchelle Akinyi, Naomi  Amuguni then orchestrated the first try of the match after she beat a host of Ugandans before offloading to Janet Okello who touched down for a five-pointer.

The floodgates then opened as Okello extended Lionesses’ lead with a converted try after Grace Adhiambo had done the spadework. Adhiambo slotted in the ensuing conversion easily as Kenya took the lead.

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