Kenya produced a superb second-half performance to overpower Zimbabwe 61-15 in Harare and begin their Africa Cup Division 1A campaign in fine style.
Leading 24-15 at half-time, the Simbas piled on 37 unanswered points after the break to register their biggest ever win over Zimbabwe and their first in Harare for six years.
With 1.35 rating points awarded to Kenya, the Simbas move up two places - above Belgium and Germany - to 24th in the World Rugby Rankings. They are now just over two tenths behind Spain.
The Simbas were rampant against Zimbabwe and got the scoring underway as early as the fourth minute when Tony Onyango dotted down and Darwin Mukidza added the conversion.
Two minutes later, Zimbabwe clawed three points back through the boot of Lenience Tambwera but David Ambunya stretched the Simbas’ lead out to 12-3, touching down after incessant pressure and slick handling from the Kenyan backs.
Once again Zimbabwe responded, through Boyd Rouse, but further converted tries from Ambunya and Dennis Muhanji put the Simbas in a commanding position at 24-10.
Zimbabwe crossed for an unconverted try just before the interval but they were unable to sustain their challenge in the second half as Kenya cruised to their biggest away win since registering an 80-9 victory over Botswana in August 2003.
Mukidza extended the Simbas’ lead with a penalty after the restart and when Tony Owuor scored for Kenya, there was seemingly no way back for the hosts who trailed 32-15 at this point.
Muhanji bagged his brace before converted tries from second-half replacement Dan Sikuta and scrum-half Edwin Achayo moved the Simbas past the half-century mark.
Further tries from Sikuta and Max Adaka rounded off the result, Kenya's first win in the Zimbabwean capital since a 23-18 triumph over the Sables in July 2010.
“We were out for the win, the team smelt victory and got it in the end after a great all round team performance,” said assistant coach Dominique Habimana.
This weekend Kenya will take on Namibia in Windhoek. Namibia kicked off their campaign on 2 July with a 40-31 win over Uganda.
Zimbabwe fall two places in the rankings to 33rd as a result of their loss, with Switzerland and Moldova the beneficiaries.
BIG WIN FOR MOROCCO
The road to Japan got underway for African nations on Sunday as the RWC 2019 qualifiers began at the COC Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco.
And it was Morocco who took the early initiative in the Africa Cup Division 1C round-robin competition with a convincing 68-3 win over Mauritius. The result did not affect either side's ranking due to the 30-place difference between Morocco, in 56th, and Mauritius in 86th.
Nigeria provide the next opposition for Mauritius, at the same venue on Wednesday, before the Division 1C action concludes with Saturday’s decisive game between Morocco and Nigeria.
Following the tournament, the winner will be promoted to Division 1B in 2017 and continue to challenge as part of the RWC 2019 qualifiers.
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