United Arab Emirates (9) 14
Zimbabwe (17) 65
SABLES’ tearaway wing Kudakwashe Chiwanza scored a hat-trick as Zimbabwe bounced back from consecutive defeats with a comprehensive victory over hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) to secure third place in the Emirates Airline Cup of Nations XVs Rugby tournament here in Dubai yesterday.
REPORT BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN DUBAI, UAE
Zimbabwe turned on the style in the second half after a shaky start with seven of their nine tries through Chiwanza (2), Takunda Chifokoyo, debutant Simba Chirimuuta, flank Biselele Tshamala, lock Jan Ferreira and Tichafara Makwanya all managing a try apiece.
Skipper Shingi Mpofu had opened Zimbabwe’s account with a try in the fifth minute of the first half before Chiwanza got his first as the Sables went to the break with a slender 17-9 lead.
Flyhalf Lenience Tambwera had an impressive day in office adding 21 points from the kicking tee to complete the massacre by the new-look side which was cheered on by a vocal small group of Zimbabweans based in Dubai.
For their efforts, UAE managed to score their first try of the tournament through centre Ross Combe to add to three first half penalties from flyhalf James Ham.
Chiwanza was elated after scoring his first hat-trick in national colours.
“It feels great to make a contribution for the team and the nation as a whole. This is my first hat-trick in national colours and hopefully it’s the first of more to come. After the defeats in the first two matches we were all determined to finish on a high and we are glad we managed to achieve that,” said Chiwanza after the match.
Zimbabwe, who were desperate for a win after defeats to Hong Kong and Belgium, did not get off to the best of starts against UAE yesterday.
Despite getting the game’s first try, the Sables struggled to maintain possession by making too many handling errors and fouls at the breakdowns.
This allowed the hosts to grow in confidence as the half wore on and they managed to convert three unanswered penalties to shockingly take the lead at 9-7 at some stage. It however, proved short-lived as the Sables quickly reasserted their dominance with a penalty and a converted try late in the first half.
The Sables were a completely transformed side in the second half as they had their opponents on the ropes most of the time which resulted in a seven-try-blitz.