Junior Sables go back-to-back with Barthes Trophy final win over Kenya

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Zimbabwe players and officials celebrate with Africa U20 Barthes Trophy after their final match against Kenya on April 30, 2023 at Nyayo National Stadium

Zimbabwe successfully defended their Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy title by beating hosts Kenya 28-7 (halftime 27-7) despite playing the last 30 minutes with 14 men in an exciting final in Nairobi on Sunday.

The Junior Sables have now won the competition five times, since the inaugural edition in 2007 as they close in on record winners and rivals Namibia, who have won the competition nine times.

More importantly, the successful title defence ensured the Junior Sables maintained their position as the best African Under-20 team outside of South Africa.

It was also a morale-boosting victory for the Junior Sables ahead of their participation in the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy slated for July 15-30 in Nairobi.

Double try scorer Edward Sigauke landed the first try for the champions who took a 7-0 lead after just four minutes fellow wing Simbarashe Kanyangarara made it 14-0 moments later.

Brendan Marume in action for the Junior Sables during their win against Kenya at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on Sunday

Kenya captain Laban Kipsang’s try cut the gap to 14-7. Kipsang’s try was the first five-pointer the Junior Sables conceded in the tournament having whipped Cote d’Ivoire 55-0 in the quarter-finals and Tunisia 60-6 in the semi-finals.

Kenya’s hopes of a comeback were however swiftly dashed as Zimbabwe restored their 14-point lead after Alex Nyamunda’s touchdown to finish off a flowing backline move.

Zimbabwe were reduced to 14 men for the last 30 minutes of the match after loose forward Zuvunda Gutu was shown a straight red card.

However, the numerical disadvantage did little to harm the visitors who sealed the win with a late try from Sigauke who bagged a brace.

The two teams went into the final having both qualified for the World Rugby U20 Trophy.

Zimbabwe punched their ticket with an emphatic 60-6 win against Tunisia in their semi-final match on Wednesday while Kenya qualified by virtue of being hosts of the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy slated for July 15-30 in Nairobi.

 

 

 

 

 

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