Junior Sables edge Tunisia to reach U20 Barthes Trophy semi-finals

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The Junior Sables players pose for a team photo before their Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy tie against Tunisia in Nairobi in April

A last gasp try from eighth man Tanaka Gondomukapindi kept the Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby team’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Rugby Under-20 Trophy alive as they edged Tunisia 19-18 in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday.

The hard-fought win in the Rugby Africa U20 Barthes quarterfinal clash at the Nyayo International Stadium means the Junior Sables will now face Indian Ocean Islanders Madagascar in the semi-finals at the same venue on Wednesday.

Madagascar qualified for the last four courtesy of a 26-14 win over Zambia.

Hosts Kenya thrashed their neighbours Uganda 54-20 in the other quarterfinal match took book a semi-final date against Namibia, who were the biggest winners of the day following a 62-0 win against Ivory Coast.

The Junior Sables looked on course to miss out on a semi-final berth as they trailed 14-18 with two minutes remaining before Gondomukapindi dived over in the corner to seal a crucial win.

Despite securing the win, Zimbabwe’s Under-20 side struggled against the Tunisians in an error strewn display characterised by handling errors and poor decision making in attack.

“It was quite a nervy start; I think the nerves did take over,” Junior Sables head coach Shaun De Souza said after the match.

“The environment, the game settings and the stadium I think was a lot for the boys but we are happy with the win. A one-point win is still a win and now we are in the semi-final, we will focus on that and try and compose the boys and hopefully play the style of rugby we know we can play,” head coach Shaun De Souza after the match.

After a nervy start, Zimbabwe went to the break leading 11-5 courtesy of two penalties by skipper Takudzwa Musingwini and a converted try front rower Brian Chiang while the Tunisians had just one try to show for their efforts.

Zimbabwe looked in control at the break, but they almost undid all their hard work in the second half.

Musingwini and his Tunisian counterpart Ilyes Ayari traded penalties early in the second half before the North Africans converted another three pointer to reduce the deficit to three points as Zimbabwe held a slender 14-11 lead.

Tunisia thought they had stolen the win when hooker Mohamed Amine charged over the whitewash for a converted try to put his side 18-14 ahead, a lead they held onto until the last two minutes of the match until Gondomukapindi broke their hearts with a last gasp try.

 

 

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