Dalmus Chituyi scored two late tries as Kenya claimed a dramatic 45-36 win over Zimbabwe in their World Cup qualifier in Nairobi.
Kenya looked on course to record a comfortable victory as they led 33-17 at the break. But Zimbabwe, coached by former Springbok boss Peter de Villiers, staged a wonderful fightback in the second half to wrestle back the lead.
Kenya made a blistering start to the game and captain Davis Chenge led from the front with a hat-trick as his side took a commanding 16-point lead into the break.
Zimbabwe slowly worked their way back into the contest and scored four second-half tries, including one from England-based wing Matthew McNab, when Kenya were down to 14 players and took the lead for the first time in the game.
But Test debutant Chituyi turned the match on its head with two tries in the last two minutes to ensure Kenya were victorious and still in contention for a place at the World Cup.
‘Although we lost three tries, it was a good performance in the end,’ said Kenya assistant coach Murray Roulston. ‘We have had a short time to train for the tournament but the boys have the potential to do better.’
De Villiers was gracious in the defeat, saying Kenya were deserved winners because they took their opportunities better.
‘Kenya were more clinical than us. We allowed a few softeners in the first half and Kenya took their chances and all credit to them.’
As it stands, Kenya are in second position in the Africa Rugby Gold Cup, eight points behind leaders Namibia.
Kenya will host Uganda in their next match on 7 July, while third-placed Zimbabwe – who last qualified for the World Cup in 1991 – travel to Tunisia.
Photo: Chris Omollo/Nation Media Group