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Young Sables crowned African champions

by Staff reporter
18 Apr 2022 at 10:17hrs | Views
Namibia 14 - 19 Zimbabwe
THE Zimbabwe Under-20 rugby team are set for another dance at the World Rugby Junior Trophy next year after winning the 2022 Rugby Africa Barthes Trophy in a tense final against Namibia at the Nyayo National Stadium in Kenya yesterday.

The Young Sables showed great spirit to win the championship which they had last won in 2011.

After a cautious start, they had the first try of the match yesterday following an incisive run from Liberty Sibanda as Zimbabwe capitalised on an error by the Namibians.

The Young Sables however could not do justice to the conversion and the score was 3-8 after 26 minutes. Both teams had scored penalty kicks earlier on.

Namibia won another penalty soon after Zimbabwe's try but their skipper Oela Blaauw missed the chance. Both teams missed two penalty kicks in the first half.

But Geraldo Beukes made it 6-8 with a beautiful kick. Zimbabwe restored their five-point lead from skipper Takudzwa Musingwini's cultured left foot shortly before the half time.   

The second half began under a drizzle at the Nyayo National Stadium. Namibia piled on the pressure and Beukes slashed the margin to two points after converting a penalty in the 53rd minute.  

The diminutive Panashe Zuze scored Zimbabwe's second try in the 57th minute after working his way through the middle to stretch Zimbabwe's lead to 16-9. But Musingwini's attempt at conversion went wide.

Big Bernd Beddies crossed the try line for Namibia's only try but Beukes went wide with the conversion. It was 16-14 with about a quarter of an hour remaining.

Zimbabwe had three more points from Marume's boot. The Young Sables then had to defend for their lives in the last 10 minutes with the backing from the vociferous Zimbabwean supporters based in Kenya.

Tavonga Ablanch was named Man of the Tournament as Zimbabwe dominated the individual awards. Tanaka Gondo Mukandapi was one of the tournament's top try scorers, tied on three ties apiece, along with Namibia's Geraldo Buekes and another player from Madagascar.

The top points scorer was Daniel Okelo of Uganda.

Zimbabwe last won the silverware in 2011. Previously, they had won the Cup in 2009 and 2010. But the Young Sables yesterday backed by a lively group of Zimbabweans supporters, were spurred to a fourth title after beating the record nine time winners in the Southern Africa derby.

The Young Sables were tactical and their defence was good. They managed to contain the Namibians who made some errors that also cost them early into this game.

Zimbabwean coach Shaun De Souza was excited that his strategy paid off.

"I am excited for the win. All praises to Allah. The boys came out and they played, we knew it was going to be a tough encounter. They have worked hard for this, we have got a young team, and the excitement is there all round.

"We analysed their game versus Kenya. We were fortunate that they played before us So we had the opportunity to analyse that game, and we saw their strengths and we tried to capitalise. As you saw our defensive system changed from our last game and I think that was our plus for us today (yesterday).

"I think in the first half, we had sort of contained them and we had sort of got them to ease down.

"The weather then changed and I think that's what caught my boys unaware. We started making unforced errors which Namibia cashed in on," he said.

Hosts Kenya claimed bronze after thrashing Madagascar 49-15 in the third-place match earlier in the day at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Tunisia beat Uganda 24-11 in the 5th place playoff. The 7th place playoff saw Zambia beat Cote D'Ivoire 22-8.

In the 7/8th playoff, Zambia got their first win of the tournament as they defeated Cote D'Ivoire 22-8 to finish in 7th position ahead of their opponents who finished bottom of the pile in this year's tourney.

Source - The Herald