THE Cheetahs opened their IRB World Sevens Series rugby pre-qualifier in style, routing minnows Mexico 27-0 with a dominant performance in their Pool G opener at the Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.
The impressive Cheetahs put up a solid defensive display and took just over a minute to cross the line for the first time, through halfback speedster Tafadzwa Chitokwindo.
They quickly added to their score. Chitokwindo turned from scorer to provider by setting up vice-captain Daniel Hondo, who crossed over for the second try in the fourth minute before Kilvan Magunje scored just before the breather.
Despite Gardner Nechironga missing all the conversions, the Cheetahs would have been satisfied as they went to halftime leading 15-0.
The Cheetahs maintained their dominance and needed just 51 seconds after the restart for Chitokwindo to complete his brace before Njabulo Ncube finished off the rout with a converted try with less than a minute left on the clock.
Mexico had a few chances late in the game, but found the mean Zimbabwean defence unyielding.
Zimbabwe team manager Bruce Hobson said yesterday’s victory was a reward for the team’s hard work, adding that they had high expectations.
“We have been working hard since early January. We have high expectations and we raised the level in Harare a few weeks ago and we must be pleased with that win,” he said after the game.
The Gilbert Nyamutsamba-coached side will be hoping to maintain a clean record in Pool G when they meet Cook Islands and World Cup hosts Russia in their remaining pool matches this morning ahead of the knockout stages tomorrow.
Zimbabwe are gunning to earn one of the four places on offer in the 12-team pre-qualifying competition from which four teams will go to London in May for the final qualifying event for core-team status.
The other non-core teams who will be hoping to secure core status are Tonga, Uruguay, Tunisia and Chinese Taipei in Pool E and Japan, Georgia, Jamaica and Brazil in Pool F.