By Sports Reporter
Zimbabwe… (17) 30
Kenya……….. (17) 29
SABLES coach Brendan Dawson was full of praise for his charges after Zimbabwe finally ended their four year losing streak against Kenya when they narrowly beat the East African side 30-29 in a tightly contested Victoria Cup encounter at Hartsfield Rugby Grounds in Bulawayo on Saturday.
Captain Hilton Mudariki’s penalty conversion a few minutes before full-time gave Zimbabwe the lead which they held onto until the end to register their third win on the trot following victories over Zambia and Uganda.
It was a hard fought victory as Kenya, who are ranked higher than Zimbabwe, gave it their all. At half time the score was tied at 17-17 before the pendulum kept swinging right until the final whistle.
The Sables, who had lost their last three encounters against Kenya since beating them in 2015, needed tries from fullback Shingirai Katsvere, prop David Makanda and flank Biselele Tshamala with Mudariki landing 15 points off the tee.
In reply the Kenya got their tries through a brace from Munate Akuei in addition to further tries from Anthony Odhiambo, Elkeans Musonye and Johnstone Mungau while Jacob Ojee managed two conversions.
Sables coach Brendan Dawson was ecstatic saying the win had lifted a huge weight off his shoulders.
“It’s a big relief; I had a lot of weight to my shoulders. It’s a great one. I am really chuffed to have won that game. At half time when we were at par I told the boys to go in there and play their game and stick to our patterns and strategies on what we wanted to do. We were sort of falling into their patterns and what they were trying to dictate in their defence,” Dawson said.
The Sables’ coach said he has a great team of youngsters who play with a unity of purpose.
“We have a great team. I have picked a lot of youngsters and there is a great vibe and great cohesion. Everybody wants to play for each other and what more can we ask for. The guys have got confidence in themselves. We will cross the bridge when we get there for the coming game. Let’s get through our injuries and see where we are and obviously Kenya will be tougher away and Uganda will be tougher at home. Credit to our guys we sucked up the energy from big Kenya guys and our guys came out trumps,” he said.
Kenyan coach Paul Odore said the Sables played a fantastic game of rugby and his side was punished for not taking their chances.
“First and foremost congratulations to Zimbabwe for a fantastic game of rugby. This win means a lot not just for them but for the people of Bulawayo. This is always a good place to come and play rugby this was a true test match. It was a game that could have gone either way. Your kicker (Mudariki) was at the top of his game but those are the lessons that you learn from test matches and if you don’t take your points you do pay the price. It was a fantastic game of rugby,” Odore said.
Zimbabwe will next be in action on August 24 when they host Uganda in Harare.