Kenya Simbas made a triumphant return to Bulawayo after 13 years with a smashing 41-22 victory over hosts Zimbabwe in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup match at the Hartsfield Grounds on Saturday.
Simbas overturned Sables lead twice, gained a 17-12 lead at the break before chalking a five-try victory to affirm their dominance over the hosts.
Winger Darwin Mukidza converted skipper Wilson K’Opondo, Samson Onsomu, David Chenge, Moses Amusala and Martin Owila tries before curling over two penalties for the victory.
However, there was no shift in the table with Namibia, who thumped Uganda 48-24 at Kyadondo Rugby Club, Kampala, on Saturday, upholding their lead with 20 points, two ahead of Kenya.
The match that will definitely decide who wins the Rugby Africa Gold Cup will be between champions Namibia and Kenya on Saturday at Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium, Windhoek.
Mukidza put Kenya ahead with a penalty before nippy Hilton Mudariki, attacking from the base, touched down with Tich Makwanya converting for a 7-3 Sables lead.
The Simbas moved forward with Peter Karia’s offload setting up Onsomu, who put the try between the poles. Mukidza converted as Kenya led 10-7.
The Sables, who looked dangerous with ball in hand, reclaimed the lead when Takudzwa Kumadiro went over at the right hand corner to give the a 12-10 advantage.
The Simbas kept possession with Chenge going over from a rolling maul. Mukidza’s conversion gave the Kenyans a 17-12 lead at the break.
Amusala opened Simbas’ second half assault, going over with Mukidza converting to make it 24-12 but the Sables responded through Makwanya’s penalty and a converted try to come to within two points as they continued to dominate possession.
As was the case in the first half, Simba were slow to settle into a rhythm but did so, after surviving incessant pressure from the hosts.
Owila scored off the maul, Mukidza converting for a 31-22 lead before K’Opondo exploited a static Sables defence to score. Mukidza responded with a conversion and a penalty to seal the victory.
Additional reporting by Kenya Rugby Union