Zimbabwe . . . (13) 19
Tunisia . . . (3) 8
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Zimbabwe rugby team is just a win away from clinching their second continental title after grinding out a 19-8 win over a resilient Tunisian side in closely fought Africa Cup Group 1A encounter at Prince Edward School on Saturday.
It was the Sables’ second win in as many matches after last month’s win over Kenya and leaves them needing a win against Namibia on August 15 in Windhoek to seal their first Africa Cup title in three years.
For Tunisia, yesterday’s defeat confirmed their relegation to Group 1B after earlier defeats to Namibia and Kenya.
Utility forward Fortune Chipendu ran in Zimbabwe’s only try of the match just six minutes after coming in for injured loose forward Norman Mukondiwa, whose return to the Sables fold for the first time in three years lasted only 20 minutes.
Flyhalf Tich Makwanya kicked a conversion and three penalties while his replacement Lenience Tambwera converted a late penalty just before the final whistle.
Trailing 13-3 at the break, Tunisia were kept in the match by prop Mlise Mohamed’s try early in the second half while fullback Chams Eddin Khalifa kicked a solitary penalty.
Despite a spirited effort in the second stanza from the North Africans, the Sables were superior both physically and tactically although the only blemish on their perfomance was the failure to finish off their opponents.
After an impressive first half perfomance, the Sables’ dangerous backline was kept relatively quiet for the better part of the second half as the Tunisians dominated both territory and possession.
Zimbabwe coach Cyprian Mandenge said although Tunisia outplayed his charges in the second half, he was happy with the victory.
“It was a tough encounter, the Tunisians played very well, and they kept their structure. They played according to their strengths but there’s no such thing as an ugly win and I think my boys also played very well. In as much I thought it would be an open game, it was very tight,” he said.
Sables Team (15-1) — Tangai Nemadire, Stephan Hunduza, Boyd Rouse, Cleopas Makotose, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Tichafara Makwanya (vice-captain), Charles Jiji, Andrew Rose, Jacques Leitao, Norman Mukondiwa, Njabulo Ndlovu, Biselele Tshamala, Farai Mudariki, Royal Mwale, Denford Mutamangira (captain)
Replacements (from) — Nico Nyemba, Kevin Nqindi, Fortunate Chipendu, Hilton Mudariki, Lenience Tambwera
Replacements (from) — Nico Nyemba, Kevin Nqindi, Lawrence Cleminson, Fortunate Chipendu, Hilton Mudariki, Lenience Tambwera, Gardner Nechironga
15. Khlifa Chams Eddin, 14. Cheli Haythem, 13. Ahmed Charrada, 12. Houssem Khalfi, 11. Jabri Chedi, 10. Eddin Khlifa, 9. Dhif Achref, 8. Majid Zemzem, 7. Hamdi Dimassi, 6. Zagden Khaled, 5. Said Mohsen, 4. Hamdi Dimassi, 3. Mohamed Mlise, 2. Salem Khanfouss, 1. Mohammed Chargui;
Replacements: 16. Mohamed Yassine, 17. Eddin Missaoui Nasser, 18. Bilel Labidi, 19. Werhani Issam, 20. Hamdi Dimassi, 21. Mansour Ali, 22. Salim Barhoumi
Zimbabwe — Try: Fortune Chipendu (1); Conversion: Tichafara Makwanya (1); Penalties: Makwanya (3), Lenience Tambwera (1)).
Tunisia — Tries: Mlise Mohamed’s (1), Penalties: Chams Eddin Khalifa (1).