What you need to know:
- Stellenbosch Challenge bronze medal match kicks off at 1pm Saturday
- But coach Odera, after thrashing from Namibia, wary of Brazil’s physicality
Kenya Simbas will be looking for their third win in a row against Brazil’s Os Tupis when the two nations clash in the Stellenbosch Challenge bronze medal match at Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch, South Africa on Saturday from 1pm.
After this fixture, the gold medal match pitting favourites Namibia against Zimbabwe will be held at the same venue.
The Stellenbosch Challenge is a World Rugby-sanctioned tournament aimed at helping the four nations prepare for their 2023 World Cup qualifiers.
The Africa qualifiers will be held in France in July.
Kenya Simbas coach Paul Odera said he would be wary of the physicality of the Brazilians.
This match will be the third meeting between these two sides.
Simbas mauled Brazil 27-25 when they met for the first time ever during the 2011 Emirates Cup in Dubai before seeing off the South Americans again 18-17 in a Test match in Macapa in 2016.
But should Odera be worried?
Kenya were blown away by a rugged and physical Namibia side 60-24- in their opening match last Sunday.
Odera will well want to see his Simbas charges stepping up in the direct game play after their torrid time at the hands of the Namibians.
Simbas threw away a 24-19 half time as they lost steam and direction to capitulate in spectacular fashion.
“It was a game of two halves last Saturday. We played well in the first half. Our scrum was dominant and strong in the first half. Our lineout was effective. In the second half, our maul defence was weak. Our kick reception let us down badly,” said Odera.
Simbas scored all their points in the first 40 minutes through Vincent Onyala (two tries) and Jacob Ojee (one try) as Fijian-born Jone Kubu converted and added a penalty.
Zimbabwe edged out Brazil 24-22 to earn the right to play Namibia for the gold medal.
Focus will be on Odera’s fielding and tactics. Several punters have pointed out that some players have been played in position they are not used to and that the Simbas starting squad is hard to pick under his tenure.
Odera has been building for a stab at France 2023 but time is running out for him.
He has half a year before Kenya, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Uganda clash in Paris for Africa’s sole automatic ticket to the 2023 world finals.
The losing finalist will get another chance to book a ticket through the repechage.
Brazil will be seeking qualification through the South America qualifiers that will also involve Chile, Paraguay and Colombia.