Kenya Chipu triumph over Namibia in Barthes Cup opener

Kenya's U20 celebrate a past win.[Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya's Under-20 rugby team, affectionately known as Chipu, kicked off their Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy campaign on a high note, securing a hard-fought 34-28 victory over Namibia in an exhilarating match held on Saturday in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The contest began with both teams exchanging penalties early on, as Namibia's Petrus Tromp and Kenya's Patrick Wainaina each notched successful kicks to keep the score level at 3-3. However, Chipu quickly gained momentum when Michael Wamalwa crossed the try line, followed by Wainaina's successful conversion, propelling Kenya ahead 8-3.

As the game progressed, Chipu's cohesive backline executed a slick passing move that culminated in Eugene Etale scoring a crucial try, converted by James Olela, stretching Kenya's lead to 15-3. Namibia retaliated with another penalty from Tromp, reducing the deficit to 15-6. Undeterred, Chipu capitalized on a loose ball with Eugene Odhiambo diving over for another try, widening the gap to 20-6, before Olela's penalty concluded the first half with Chipu comfortably ahead at 23-6.

The second half saw a resurgence from Namibia, as they swiftly scored an unconverted try to bring the score to 23-11. Olela then added to Chipu's tally with a penalty, extending the lead to 26-11. However, Namibia demonstrated remarkable resilience, mounting a comeback with consecutive scores to narrow Chipu's lead to a tense 26-23. Olela steadied Kenya's nerves with another successful penalty, making it 29-23 in favor of Chipu.

In a thrilling climax, Namibia closed the gap to a single point with an unconverted try, setting the stage for a nail-biting finale at 29-28. With the match hanging in the balance, Chipu secured their victory with a late try, clinching the win at 34-28.

The Kenya U20s exhibited tenacity and skill in overcoming a determined Namibian side. This victory provides Chipu with a positive start to their campaign in the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy. Up next, Kenya will face Tunisia in their second match on Wednesday.

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