HomeSportJunior Sables edge past Tunisia to reach Barthes Trophy semis

Junior Sables edge past Tunisia to reach Barthes Trophy semis

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

Zimbabwe …… (11) 19

Tunisia…………… (5) 18

ZIMBABWE’S Under-20 National Rugby team needed a last gasp try from loose forward Tanaka Ndoro to edge Tunisia in a nervy Rugby Africa U20 Barthes Trophy quarter final clash at the Nyayo International Stadium in Nairobi yesterday.

The Junior Sables looked on course to miss out on a semi-final berth as they trailed 14-18 with two minutes remaining after surrendering a halftime lead against the North Africans.

All seemed lost for Zimbabwe until the hardworking eighth man Ndoro dived over in the corner to seal a scrappy win which means they will now face Madagascar in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

While Zimbabwe will be delighted with the victory, they will be the first to admit that they were far from their best after a scrappy performance characterised by handling errors and lack of discipline at the breakdown and poor decision making in attack.

“It was quite a nervy start; I think the nerves did take over. The environment, the game settings and the stadium I think was a lot for the boys but we are happy with the win. A one point win is still a win and now we are in the semi-final, we will focus on that and try and compose the boys and hopefully play the style of rugby we know we can play,” head coach Shaun De Souza after the match.

Zimbabwe went to the break leading 11-5 courtesy of the individual brilliance of skipper Takudzwa Musingwini while the Tunisians had just one try to show for their efforts.

The gifted half slotted over two penalties before converting the Junior Sables’ only try of the opening half from front rower Brian Chiang.

Zimbabwe looked in control at the break, but they almost undid all their hard work in the second half.

After Musingwini and his Tunisian counterpart Ilyes Ayari traded penalties early in the second half.

The game turned into a penalty shootout as Tunisia scored another penalty through the incredible foot of Ayari from the 22 to reduce the deficit to three points. A resilient build-up by Tunisia paid off as Amine redeemed himself by touching down a try to make up for his earlier caution. Ilyes Ayari converted the extras to lead for the first time in the game with the scores 18-14.

However, it’s Zimbabwe who grabbed the victory right at the end as Tanaka Gondo Mukandapi touched down a try to seal a crucial win which keeps their hopes of qualifying for next year’s Junior World Rugby Trophy alive.

The Junior Sables will now face Indian Ocean Islanders Madagascar, who qualified for the last four courtesy of a 26-14 win over Zambia.

Hosts Kenya thrashed their neighbours Uganda 54-20 in the other quarterfinal match took book a semi-final date against Namibia, who were the biggest winners of the day following a 62-o win against Ivory Coast.

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