BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwe……. (15) 39
Zambia….……. (3) 10
OUTSTANDING centres Daniel Capsopolous and debutant Takudzwa Chieza ran in two tries each as the Sables kicked off their 2019 Victoria Cup campaign with a comfortable 39-10 bonus-point victory over Zambia at the Machinery Exchange Stadium at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Although it was not a polished performance by the Sables in their first Test match of the year, they showed some grit and determination to take maximum points on offer and give their fans something to shout about.
Despite fielding a total of nine debutants in their match day squad, the Sables were just too strong as they scored six tries against one by the visitors to lay an early marker in the competition which also features Uganda and Kenya.
The Sables were clearly the better side on the day as the forwards bullied the Zambians in contact, at the breakdown and during set pieces, while the fine work by the backline meant they also dominated both territory and possession of the ball.
Zambia, who beat a weakened second-string Zimbabwe side in an international friendly last year, initially looked up to the task in the early stages before fizzling out of the game as they appeared confused in their attack with no clear pattern of play or style.
The hosts held a 15-3 lead at half-time courtesy of tries by Capsopolous and debutant wing Martin Mangongo, while skipper Brendon Mandivenga, who had a brilliant game at flyhalf, kicked a conversion and a penalty.
Zimbabwe continued their dominance in the second half with Capsopolous again setting the early tone with a well-worked try which was converted by Mandivenga before scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki scored the crucial bonus-point try.
Debutant Chieza then stole the show after rising from the replacements bench to score a brace including a brilliant long-range try which had the appreciative home crowd on their feet. Mandivenga yet again scored the extras to give the hosts an emphatic 39-3 lead.
The Sables finished the match with 14 men after lock Godwin Mangenje was shown a red card for a high tackle on a Zambian player.
Zambia took advantage of the numerical advantage to score their only try of the match through number eight Brian Mbwale before Mphatso Mwashi slotted hone the conversion just before fulltime.
Tries: D Capsopolous (2), T Chieza (2), M Mangongo, H Mudariki
Cons: B Mandivenga (3)
Pens: B Mandivenga (1)
Tries: B Mwale
Cons: M Mwashi (1)
Pens: M Mwashi (1)