Kenya Simbas will be seeking a third straight victory when the team takes on hosts Zimbabwe Sables in Rugby Africa Gold Cup match at Hartsfield Rugby grounds in Bulawayo on Saturday.
The Simbas roar into Bulawayo with confidence, riding high on their previous victories against Tunisia 100-10 and Senegal 45-25. The Simbas will also be seeking to stump authority over Zimbabwe whom they beat 61-15 last year at Police grounds, Harare.
It’s left to be known whether the return of international rugby in the rugby-mad area of Bulawayo after a six-year hiatus will inspire Sables to victory. The hosts beat Simbas 28–20 in a 2015 match at Jubilee Fields in Harare.
Zimbabwe have only played two matches in the tournament, winning 28-16 away to Senegal before losing 26-31 to champions Namibia, who are away at Kyadondo Rugby Club, Kampala for a showdown with Uganda Cranes.
Namibia, who are undefeated, top the six-team log with 15 points, having beaten Tunisia 53-7 and Senegal 95-0 besides Zimbabwe.
Kenya, who also boast a clean sheet, are placed second with 13 points, having drawn 33-33 with Cranes before crushing Tunisia and Senegal. Uganda follow with 11 points from 17-16 and 78-17 victories over Senegal and Tunisia respectively, besides their draw with Kenya.
Zimbabwe are fifth with seven points from two matches.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union chairman Nyararai Sibanda told the country’s leading newspaper Chronicles that his team is ready to face Simbas’ challenge.
“I’m proud of the boys because they fought for the country and lost by a small margin in Namibia,” said Sibanda. “We are doing everything we can so that the players and coaches focus on winning the game.”
After the Sables clash, Kenya Simbas will face Namibia next Saturday at Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium in Windhoek in their final match which promises to be a fiery one.
The defeat for Namibia in Uganda will complicate things for the teams as they battle to retain their positions in the group and keep their 2019 World Cup dreams alive.
An explosive showdown beckons, what with both Kenya and Zimbabwe playing a running game using their backs more, which leaves Simbas coach Jerome Paarwater and his Sables counterpart Cyprian Mandenge to work on a winning formula. After playing Kenya at Hartsfield, the Sables will again host Tunisia next Saturday in Harare before travelling to Uganda for their last match on August 5.
Apart from the Gold Cup counting for the African title, the top-tier tournament also serves as the 2019 RWC qualifiers.
The winner gets the second slot for Africa at the world rugby showcase. South Africa has already booked its slot to the World Cup set for Japan