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Sables join elite group

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Zimbabwe . . . . . . . 49
Madagascar . . . . . . . 0

A supercharged Zimbabwe senior rugby side ran in an impressive nine tries to outmuscle Madagascar at the Kyadondo Rugby Club in Kampala, Uganda yesterday to win the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Group 1B tournament.

The victory rated among the most impressive wins away from home by the Sables in recent years and also earned them automatic promotion to the more competitive Africa Cup Group 1A.

The result also meant that the final game of the tournament between Madagascar and Uganda on Saturday would be a dead rubber with both teams fighting for national pride and the rankings, as the victorious Sables virtually sealed the tournament.
This was the Sables’ second consecutive win in the three-team tournament after they started their campaign off to a winning start after defying a partisan home crowd to beat the hosts Uganda 15-25 on Sunday.

This was also the Sables’ second consecutive victory over the Indian Ocean Islanders after they beat them 28-22 in last year’s edition of the tournament at Hartsfield in Bulawayo.

Buoyed by a dominant forward pack, the Sables overwhelmed their opponents in the scrums and line-out set-pieces which yielded four tries from mauls, with the veteran pair of towering lock Costa Dinha and hooker Prayer Chitenderu stringing a good understanding.

Open-side flanker Shingi Mpofu and winger Gardner Nechironga both ran in two tries apiece in the second half to complement further tries from Kuda Kambasha, skipper Daniel Hondo, Fortune Chipendo, Lloyd Machanjaire and Shayne Makombe.

Madagascar were expected to give the Sables a run for their money but in the end they meekly folded under pressure as Cyprian Mandenge’s boys went for the oranges leading 12-0 after Kambasha and Hondo went over.

The Sables went further ahead soon after the restart when Zimbo Busters’ livewire winger put down soon after the restart after a cheeky offload by full-back Danny Robertson.

The introduction of scrumhalf Charles Jiji in the second half added more mobility to the Sables as they became to run the ball more quickly resulting in Chipendo and Nechironga crossing over within a space of three minutes, in the 53rd and 56th minute respectively.

From then on it became a one-way traffic as the Sables dominated the rucks, consistently turning over possession in their favour as Mpofu stole the show with a quick brace soon after the hour mark.

Yesterday’s win over Madagascar who are ranked 45th on the International Rugby Board rankings could see the Sables move further up after they climbed five places from 47th to 42nd on Monday.

The Sables will now shift their attention to the tri-nations Victoria Cup in which they will host Kenya — one of the team in the Africa Cup Group 1A — at Hartsfield Grounds next weekend.

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