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Simbas roar past Zambia to set date with Zimbabwe in Nairobi

RUGBY By Clement Wekulo | August 25th 2019
Eliud Mulakoli (L) of Kenya contests for ball with Edward Mumba of Zambia during the return leg of Victoria Cup match at RFUEA grounds on August 24, 2019. [Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com]

Full back Isaac Njoroge kicked 11 points as the national men’s rugby 15s team, Simbas, beat a resilient Zambia side 31-16 in a Victoria Cup return match at the RFUEA ground yesterday.

The result saw the Kenyans triumph 74-39 on aggregate having claimed a 43-23 victory in the first leg played in Kitwe. The Paul Odera-coached Simbas will now shift focus to their final match against Zimbabwe in Nairobi next month.

Zambia, under the tutelage of former international Lawrence Njovu, are the only team yet to register a win in the four-team tournament which also has Zimbabwe and Uganda and yesterday’s setback against a relatively inexperienced Kenyan squad further compounded their woes.

In what was the fifth international test match between the sides, Kenya coach Odera paraded five debutants with his preferred line up having an average age of 22 years.

The hosts got onto the scoresheet through four tries, one conversion and three penalties while Zambia managed one try, a similar number of conversions and three penalties.

Isaac Njoroge, who was making a return to action having suffered a head injury in the reverse fixture, opened the scoring for Simbas after splitting the posts with an early penalty.

Making his 38th appearance for the national team, captain Curtis Lilako would then go over for Kenya’s first try before his KCB teammate Njoroge added the conversion with ease to hand Paul Odera’s men a 10-0 advantage.

Zambia found a response with Laston Mukosa cutting the deficit to seven points through a penalty before Elkeans Musonye went over for Kenya with a five-pointer.

The Zambians piled pressure on the Kenyan backline, forcing the East Africans into infringement and Mukosa returned to the score sheet with his second penalty of the afternoon.

The full-back would then bring Zambia to within touching distance as he converted Edwin Mumba’s try to take the scores to 15-13 before Njoroge responded with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Njoroge’s perfect kicking continued in the second half as he booted a three-pointer before Oscar Simiyu gave Kenya the fourth try which was not converted. Debutant Brian Amaitsa, who also features for the Kenya under-20 team would then put the result beyond doubt with a converted try.

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