BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Zimbabwe………. (15) 32
Uganda…………… (12) 26
THE Sables cemented their position at the top of the Victoria Cup standings with an unconvincing 32-26 win over a battling Uganda at Harare Sports Club yesterday to take their winning run this season to four matches.
Zimbabwe, who are now firm favourites to win the four-nation tournament, which also features Zambia and Kenya, scored four tries through forwards Blithe Mavesere, Keith Murray, Godfrey Muzanargwo and Matthew Mandioma.
Skipper Hilton Mudariki, who had another brilliant game after his match-winning performance against Kenya early this month, kicked two conversions and a penalty, while flyhalf Dudlee White-Sharpley also chipped in with five points from a penalty and a conversion.
Uganda were kept in the match for long periods of this contest through the prodigious boot of their talented fullback Philip Wokorach, who scored 16 points from four penalties and two conversions to add to two tries from centre Michael Wokorach and flank Byron Oketayot.
“Obviously, I’m very happy about the win, but it was not one of the most gracious wins. A lot of strange decisions were made out there, which swung the game back and forth, but I’m very grateful we won the game,” Sables coach Brendan Dawson said after the match.
“We are allowing our opposition to get back in the game; we get into great momentum and allow them to come back. We need to protect our ball more, but we’re not doing it accurately enough.”
Zimbabwe were the better side on the day as they created the better chances but, as it’s been this season, they can’t score at vital times due to poor handling and poor decision-making. They had enough pressure, territory and possession in that second half to have scored a lot more than the 17 points they managed.
The Sables held a slender 15-12 lead at the break after Mavesere and Murray both went over the whitewash after well-executed lineout set pieces, while Mudariki chipped in with a penalty and a conversion.
Uganda, who responded with four penalties by Wokorach, always managed to stay within touching distance, capitalising on the hosts’ unforced errors and shortcomings at the breakdown.
Mudariki produced a brilliant burst of speed and complementing offload to set up Muzanargwo’s try early in the second half, but Uganda responded with a contentious try from Michael Wokorach, who appeared to knock-on the ball after dispossessing White-Sharpley.
The two exchanged two tries to make it a three-point ball-game at 29-26 in favour of the Sables with a few minutes to play before a late penalty on the stroke of full-time ensured the home side celebrated another hard-fought win.