Lionesses fall to South Africa in crucial match

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Fresha Awino (left) of Top Fry Nakuru battles for the ball with Christabel Lindo Tata of Northern Surbubs during the Great Rift 10 Aside at Nakuru Athletics club (NAC ) on March 30, 2018 .Photo:Kipsang Joseph/Standard

Kenya’s dream of playing at the global showpiece is still alive as they will face South American opposition.

Kenya’s women’s rugby 15s team, Lionesses, failed to secure direct qualification to the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand following yesterday’s 39-0 loss to South Africa in their last fixture of the Africa Women’s Cup.

The match, played at the Bosman stadium in Brakpan, Johannesburg, saw the Kenyans, who are ranked 28th globally, struggle to assert themselves against the South Africans who occupy 11th position in the World Rugby ranking.

Having bagged silver at the four-team tournament, the Lionesses’ dream of qualifying for their maiden World Cup is still alive as they have a second chance of booking a ticket to the global showpiece when they face South American opposition in a one-off playoff.

The winner of the play-off will be granted a chance to participate in a four-team repechage next year where the last ticket to the World Cup will be up for grabs.

Teams which finished in the top seven at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup among them defending champions New Zealand, are assured of competing at the 2021 World Cup. The others are Australia, Wales, USA, Canada, England and France.

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Felix Oloo’s charges trailed 24-0 at the half time break after South Africa scored four tries through Zintle Mpupha, Lindelwa Gwala, Tayla Kinsey and Snenhlanhal Shozi with Kinsey also scoring four points with the boot. Aseza Hele, Mathrin Simmers and Rights Mkhari then completed the rout in the second half.  Consequently, the Women Boks, as the South African team is known, managed to book a ticket to the World Cup where they join seven other nations.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s East African neighbours Uganda were held to a 15-15 draw by Madagascar in an earlier fixture played at the same venue.

The Indian Ocean Islanders, who had never played an international 15s test match prior to the Johannesburg event, rallied from 3-7 down at halftime to share the spoils with the Ugandans. 

Just like Madagascar, Uganda scored through two tries one conversion and a penalty.

Europe, Asia, Oceania and South America are also set to hold qualifying tournaments for the World Cup.

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