Home » Sports » Sables Win Not Good Enough

ZIMBABWE were left to fight another day when the Sables blew a golden opportunity to earn an automatic rugby World Cup ticket to England next year as their victory over Kenya in Antananarivo, Madagascar was not good enough to carry them through.The Sables beat Kenya 28-10 on a decisive day for the Africa Cup but that win was not good enough as Namibia piped them for pole position in the four-team tournament to aance to the World Cup.

Namibia, who on Wednesday rallied from behind to overcome Zimbabwe 24-20 were more ruthless against hapless Madagascar thumping the hosts 89-10 to go top on superior points difference. The top three teams — Namibia, Zimbabwe and Kenya — were tied on 10 points but it was the Namibians who prevailed after their crushing win over Madagscar.

However, the Sables will now get a second attempt at a place at the World Cup, albeit in a more difficult route as they will be travelling to Siberia in August for a date against Russia in the first round of the playoffs where the winner of this game will go on to face the winner of the game between Uruguay and Hong Kong on a home and away basis.

A 28-10 win over Kenya would have sufficed had Namibia won by less than 53 points but they managed a 89-10 win over Madagascar meaning that the Sables finished second and will have to take the longer route to the world stage.

Zimbabwe needed a bonus point victory against Kenya if they were to automatically make it for England, but they failed to get the fourth try that would have ensured their ticket to England next year.

Costly was the decision by Sables to go for posts when they got a penalty inside the 14-man Kenya half towards the end of the game, but instead of going for touch, fly-half Guy Cronje went for the posts as had been directed by the technical team.

Director of rugby Liam Middleton called for the three-pointer yet there was a huge chance for the Sables to get a five pointer as they had dominated the Kenya forwards and had also frustrated their back-line, but it was not to be.

Sables coach Brendan Dawson in a post match interview, however, admitted that going for the posts was a mistake.

“There was a bit of confusion with what was happening (as Cronje was seeking medical attention lying on the ground) but I wanted the boys to go for touch,” said the former Sables captain.

This makes it Namibia’s fifth straight qualification for the World Cup as Zimbabwe are still in the battle to make their third appearance.

But they must first overcome Russia and possibly Uruguay or Hong Kong in order to fulfil their dream.

The Sables got their points through tries from centre Riaan O’Neil, scrummy Hilton Mudariki and Cronje who also added two conversions and three penalties taking his contribution to 18 points while Kenya replied through a centre Humphrey Khayange try and fly-half Lavin Asego’s penalty and conversion.

Zimbabwe drew first blood and in the fifth minute they were awarded a penalty as Kenya were punished for holding onto the ball in a ruck situation. Cronje converted but it only took another six minutes for Kenya to level the terms through an Asego place kick.

Cronje gave Zimbabwe the lead once again in the 16th minute with another spot kick that he had no problems with and Zimbabwe were 6-3 ahead following a turn-over off a Kenya scrum where they forced the East Africans to make mistakes.

However, with just under 10 minutes to go before the break, Kenya got the first touchdown of the game when Khayange found a gap in the Zimbabwe back-line’s defence, sidestepping fullback Tangai Nemadire who was left clutching thin air for a try that was converted again by Asego giving Kenya a 10-6 lead.

It seemed the two sides would go into the break with Kenya enjoying a slight lead over Zimbabwe but O’Niell had finally had an answer for Zimbabwe who had started asking the Kenyan defence a lot of questions.

His eye for the gap was just what Zimbabwe needed to get back into the game thanks to a move that was orchestrated by eighth-man Lambert Groenewald who found Cronje off the base of the scrum before he offloaded to O’Neill with Cronje adding the bonus points.

Who would have thought that this was the try that changed the game for the Sables, as they came back a more formidable side in the second half restricting Kenya from adding any more points while they went on to score another 15 points.

No doubt loose head prop Denford “Zim One” Mutamangira put up one of his best — if not the best — performances in the green and white jersey, commanding the front row very well and winning almost all the balls at contact.

Mutamangira lived up to his nickname where he proved to be Zimbabwe’s number one player not just by position but his game was effective, he proved a worth ball carrier and fought back well in defence.

Such was the case even at the scrums where together with hooker Keith Murray and tight-head prop Kevin Nqindi they formed a formidable trio that was well supported by their looses in the form of Jacques Leitao, Greame Lawler and Groenewald.

Zimbabwe enjoyed much possession in the second half, but were at times frustrated by the Kenya defence as they were forced to make mistakes especially in the final pass but that did not deter the Sables who wanted to keep their World Cup dream a reality.

It was 13 minutes into the second period that Mudariki exploded off the base of the scrum just inside the Kenya 22 metre after he saw a gap in the Kenya defence, his touch down extending Zimbabwe’s lead but this was the only conversion Cronje missed taking Zimbabwe to 18-10.

Cronje was responsible for Zimbabwe’s last 10 points of the game, scoring a try, a conversion and a penalty in the 78th minute but on reflection the Sables will rue their decision to go for the posts instead of attempting to run in a try.

Scorers

Zimbabwe

Tries: O’ Neil, H. Mudariki, Cronje

Conversions: Cronje (two)

Penalties: Cronje (three)

Kenya

Tries: Kayange (one)

Conversion: Asego

Source : The Herald

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