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To compete with the best – avoid silly mistakes

Having posted mixed results over the past one and a half months, the national 15s team in South Africa will be looking to cause another upset before the tournament ends.

Before their departure, head coach Jerome Paarwater stressed how the tournament was more about learning than winning, and several lessons have been learnt over their stay in South Africa.

Their match against Western Province last weekend exposed the team’s tackle ability, as they had 27 missed tackles, which majorly contributed to Province’s 65 points.

Despite this, majority tackles from Joshua Chisanga, Milke Okombe and James Kang’ethe.

World Cup

With the team preparing for the World Cup qualifiers in June, this should be a major concern for Paarwater, as Zimbabwe and Namibia, who will be two of Kenya’s opponents at the qualifiers, run equally hard, which will leave very little leeway for missed tackles.

A difference between the first choice players and reserves was also exposed in the forwards. Twins James and Joseph Kang’ethe have been brilliant, stabilising the scrums, carrying very many balls in open play and taking huge tackles.

Their replacements Curtis Lilako and Moses Amusala held the scrum well a few times, but were almost invisible in open play. Their work rate will have to be upped in open play to set a platform for the backline.

The locks too may have some work to do in open play as Wilson K’opondo and Ronnie Mwenesi’s absence was obvious last weekend. K’opondo was not available for the tie while Mwenesi failed to secure permission from his employer to travel.

Fine jumper

Oliver Mang’eni however has clearly matured into a fine jumper, and has been aggressive at the breakdowns but needs to carry more balls.

New boy Martin Owila has also made a case for a place in the first team with his aggression on defence and dedication to tackling.

One of the most crucial lessons the team should however take from the tournament is that they are lethal with the ball, they have a dangerous, running backline that can work something out of nothing.

Leonard Mugaisi, Tony Onyango and Fabian Olando have shown how much damage they can do with just an inch of space, scoring several tries from such instances.

Edwin Achayo and Kenny Andola have been a joy to watch as their link play; game reading and sharp passes have made a huge difference to the team.