Simbas eye RWC debut

Kenya Simbas contest the ball against hosts Madagascar at  Antananarivo. Photo: IRB

Kenya Simbas (green) contest the ball against hosts Madagascar at Antananarivo. Photo: IRB

The Simbas yesterday dominated Madagascar, running in 34 points and conceding none in their second qualification tie in the Rugby World Cup qualifying tournament in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

With one game remaining on Sunday versus the Zimbabwe Sables, there is an air of expectation that the Simbas will qualify for the England Rugby World Cup 2015.

Coach Jerome Paarwater should be ecstatic with his squad. They have scored plenty of tries, showed composure when under the pump, and now have two wins from two games and a very strong points difference of +41, with one tie remaining.

The Simbas ran in five tries in the first half, but only converted one of them (a glaring weakness that has plagued Kenya 15s and 7s teams), leaving plenty of points on the park. Points they can ill afford to drop against Zimbabwe.

The early result of the day – Zimbabwe losing to Namibia 20-24 – must have given the boys from East Africa a huge boost.

Kenya’s heavier pack overpowering a smaller Maki forwards in most scrums. The Kenyans also turned the ball over almost 10 times when the Makis ran high into contact and were held up.

The breakdown was another strong point for the Simbas. The training in the Vodacom Cup was clearly beneficial for the Kenyan team, they just need to be a bit more clinical with the clean-outs and quick ball to the dynamic backs.

The Sevens team specialists that were added to the side have made a huge impact. Humphrey Khayange has marshalled the defence perfectly from the outside centre spot, bending but never breaking, and each player trusted the other to make their tackles and chose their moments to compete for turnovers.

Joshua Chisanga led from the front and the base of the scrum, making plenty of ground every time he carried the ball. The young loose forward relished the contact and physically imposed himself on both sides of the ball, as did both locks Oli Mang’eni and Ronnie “Step” Mwenesi. The tight five packed tight, had great scrum form, and allowed the rest of the team to play on the front foot when defending.

The team put up a great effort despite the eight changes for this test.

The Simbas are expected at least four changes for the squad that will face Zimbabwe for the last match on Sunday for the decider of the RWC teams.

The winner takes the last of fives spots in Pool C which includes champion New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Georgia.

The runner up of the CAR tournament faces Russia to decide the winner of the Europe/Africa spot that will playoff for the repechage spot against the Asia/Americas spot that will be decided between Hong Kong and Uruguay.

The repechage winner will be the last team to join Pool A in England which includes the hosts, Australia, Wales and Fiji.

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Filed under Africa, England 2015, Focus on rwc, International, Kenya, Sevens, Simbas, William Webb-Ellis Cup

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