Nairobi - Debutant Dalmus Chituyi scored two crucial tries at the death to help Kenya beat Zimbabwe 45-36 in a dramatic Rugby World Cup qualifier in Nairobi on Saturday.
Kenya were staring at defeat after Zimbabwe, who were trailing 33-17 at half-time staged a dramatic comeback to score 19 points in the second half of the game.
Kenyan captain Davis Chenge had put the home side in the driving seat with a hat-trick of tries in the opening 18 minutes before Zimbabwe's Denford Mutamangira, playing his 50th international reduced the deficit with the first try for the Sables.
Zimbabwe had Fortune Chipendu sin-binned in the 34th minute, but the visitors rallied with a commanding performance in the second half, scoring four tries, a penalty and a conversion as the home-side collapsed under the pressure.
Zimbabwe took advantage of a Kenyan yellow card in the 55th minute as England-based winger Matthew McNab took the opportunity to put his resurgent side into the lead for the first time in the match when he broke through the slack Kenyan defence down the left before making his dive to score their fifth try.
But Chituyi ensured Kenya's victory with the two late tries to keep the Simbas in contention for a place in next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Kenya bagged four more points to remain in second position with eight, seven less than leaders Namibia, who overwhelmed Morocco 63-7 in Casablanca.
"Although we lost three tries, it was a good performance in the end," said Kenya assistant coach Murray Roulston.
"We have had a short time to train for the tournament but the boys have the potential to do better."
Zimbabwe's South African-born coach Peter de Villiers was gracious in the defeat.
"Kenya were more clinical than us.We allowed a few softeners in the first half and Kenya took their chances than us, and all credit to them."
Kenya will host Uganda in their match of the competition on July 7, while third-placed Zimbabwe, which last qualified for the World Cup in 1991 will entertain Tunisia away.