The Zimbabwe Goshawks held off a spirited fight back from the Kenyan Simbas to squeak a 22-21 (halftime 17-10) victory in a thrilling Currie Cup First Division tie at the City Park Stadium in Athlone, Cape Town on Saturday.
The Goshawks established an early 17-0 lead thanks to tries from flanker Biselele Tshamala and centre Takudzwa Chieza, both converted by scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki, who had opened the scoring with a penalty.
A penalty from flyhalf Jone Tavaga and a try from centre Vincent Owino, which was converted by Tavaga, brought the Simbas to within a score at the break.
Tavaga closed the gap to four points shortly after the restart before an unconverted try by hooker Matthew Mandioma extended the Zimbabweans’ lead to nine points.
Another penalty from Tavaga brought the Kenyans to within six points and a try from replacement flanker Elkeans Mukamiti six minutes from time, gave the Simbas the chance to snatch victory but Tavaga’s conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
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The Goshawks held on for a crucial victory which ended their run of two successive losses after going down to Georgian side Black Lion and defending champions Griffons on their first two matches.
The win is also a big morale booster for the Brendan Dawson-coached side, who are using the Currie Cup First Division campaign to prepare for the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup to be staged in France in July.
Both Zimbabwe and Kenya are expected to travel to France for the Rugby Africa Cup tournament, which is also being used as qualifiers for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Simbas – Try:Vincent Owinal; Conversion:Jone Tavaga; Penalties:Tavaga (3).
Zimbabwe Goshawks – Tries: Biselele Tshamala, Takudzwa Chieza, Matthew Mandioma; Conversions: Hilton Mudariki (2); Penalty: Mudariki