Sloppy, uninspired Junior Sables relinquish Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy title to Kenya

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Zimbabwe’s bid to win a third-straight Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy went up in smoke after a disappointing 28-13 loss to Kenya in the competition decider at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

After victories against Tunisia and Namibia earlier in the competition, the Junior Sables were overwhelming favorites to beat Kenya, who had also beaten the same opponents on their way to the final.

History was also on Zimbabwe’s side after they comfortably defeated the Kenyans in the final of last year’s competition in Nairobi to clinch their second successive continental title.

Kenya however had other ideas as they upstaged their much fancied hosts to qualify for the World Rugby U20 Trophy which will be hosted by Scotland, from July 2-17.

Zimbabwe enjoyed a bright start after racing into a 10-0 lead through unconverted tries from Tawana Nyashabwane and Edward Sigauke.

But tries from Iddo Kuta, Michael Wamalwa – with his fourth of the tournament – and Patrick Wainaina with a conversion from James Olela put the Chipu into a 17-10 lead at the break.

Penalties were then traded before captain Andy Cole Omolo barged over to make the score 25-13 to the Chipu.

Phil Okeyo put the result doubt when he kicked a penalty five minutes from time as the Chipu reclaimed the trophy they last won in 2021.

“This game could have gone either way but it went our way. The boys followed the script to the letter. We put in the work on our setpieces, it showed in the match and the results speak for themselves, said the Chipu’s relieved head coach Simon Jawichre.

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