HomeSportRugbyCheetahs come close but . . .

Cheetahs come close but . . .

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Zimbabwe’s Sevens (7s) Rugby team were left to fight another day after losing 21-17 to Portugal in the quarter-finals of the core-status qualifying tournament of the Hong Kong Series yesterday, to miss out on an opportunity of becoming core-member of the HSBC World 7s Series next season.

Portugal went on to beat Japan in a third and fourth place play-off to join finalists Spain and Canada as the three teams who will join the 12 existing core teams at each round of the nine-legged HSBC World 7s Series next season.

Utility player Gardner Nechironga crossed over for the Cheetahs’ try in the third minute, which was converted by Tangai Nemadire.

The Portuguese replied with a converted try of their own through Goncalo Foro in the fifth minute, before speedster Wes Mbanje restored the Cheetahs’ lead less than a minute later.

Nemadire put the conversion wide as the Cheetahs took a 12-7 half-time lead.

Zimbabwe looked to have sealed the match after Mbanje scored his second try three minutes into the second half which Nemadire yet again failed to convert.

The missed conversions came back to haunt the Cheetahs as Aderito Esteves’ converted try rekindled his team’s hope.

Foro completed his double to come from behind and seal a win for Portugal. The Cheetahs had earlier booked a quarter-final clash with Portugal after finishing as the best- placed runners-up in Pool E after being pipped by Spain and Canada on points difference.

The three teams had finished tied on seven points, but Gilbert Nyamutsamba’s men almost missed out on points difference.

The Cheetahs had got their campaign off to a disappointing start after losing 19-5 to Spain in their first match on Friday.

Zimbabwe bounced back from their opening day loss to record two victories on day two, 24-21 against Canada and 21-17 against the Philippines, and finished third.

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