Kenya gave their fans something to cheer by beating Morocco 28-14 on the opening day of the CAR (Confederation of African Rugby) Under 19 Championship at the RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi on Tuesday.
The Kenyans, seeded one place below their opponents in fifth, scored three tries in the first half only for prop Asden Mahi’s try for Morocco cut the deficit to only seven points – 21-14 – at the interval.
David Ambunya crossed for the only try of the second half as Kenya, who produced some memorable performances to finish fourth at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy on home soil back in April, emerged victorious.
Kenya now face a semi final with top seeds Namibia – who overwhelmed an under-strength Zambia side 85-0 – on Friday and the chance to avenge a heart-breaking last gasp 22-17 loss in the Junior World Rugby Trophy.
Namibia, fielding six players from that Kenyan victory, ran in 13 tries against Zambia with Pieter Jansen and Andre de Klerk - who became the first schoolboy to play for the Namibian senior side in June - scoring a brace.
Zimbabwe to meet Tunisia
The other semi final will pit last year’s CAR Under 19 runners-up Zimbabwe against Tunisia after they overcame Uganda 25-0 and a Kenya Select side 45-5 respectively in the Pool B matches on day one.
Zimbabwe raced into a 14-0 lead inside 10 minutes against Uganda with tries from number 8 Bishelele Tshamala and centre Edward Mama. At one brief stage in the second half Zimbabwe had two players in the sin-bin but Uganda were unable to capitalise and instead full back Dennis Robertson scored a fourth try nine minutes from time to seal the victory.
Tunisia proved too strong for the Kenya Select side, who had stepped in following Ivory Coast’s withdrawal. Number 8 Ahmed Charni scored two of Tunisia’s five tries in the first half as they went in leading 35-0.
Two further tries followed for Tunisia in the second half as they played the final half hour with 14 men following prop Chahir Aoudi’s red card. Kenya Select did get on the scoreboard with centre Oscar Ayodi’s try just past the hour mark.
Kenya Select will now face Uganda on Friday with Morocco to meet Zambia, but all eyes will be on the semi finals to see which two nations will keep alive their hopes of winning the title and securing Africa’s berth at the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy 2010.
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