BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE . . . (24) 31
ZAMBIA . . . . . . . . .(0) 8
ZIMBABWE’S senior national rugby team began its preparations for the Rugby Africa Cup on a positive note with a comfortable 31-8 win over Zambia at the Machinery Exchange Stadium at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Playing as the President’s XV side, the hosts dominated the first half as they scored four unanswered tries through Brendon Mudzekenyedzi, Doug Juszczyk, Aiden Burnett and Tonderai Chawambutsa as they ran riot against the rattled visitors.
Juszczyk added another try in the second half while captain Hilton Mudariki managed three conversions.
Zambia, who became confident in the second half when Zimbabwe’s lack of competitive game time began to take its toll, got their consolation try just before full-time from fullback Jubilee Chisanga, after David Kaloko had got them on the board with a penalty.
As expected, Zimbabwe ran out of steam in the final minutes of the match due to their inactivity in the last 20 months.
The opponents took full advantage to finish strongly but the damage had already been done in the first half.
There were, however, some solid individual performances from the New Zealand-based duo of loose head prop Juszczyk and outside centre Mudzekenyedzi as they enjoyed a memorable debut in national colours.
Rising star Tino Mavesere, who is fresh from being named the best forward player in the just-ended Varsity Cup, also showed flashes of brilliance, while skipper Mudariki led from the front with an assured performance.
Zimbabwe got their first try in the 13th minute through Mudzekenyedzi before number eight Burnett crashed over for another try which was converted by Mudariki.
Juszczyk also charged over for another try which was converted by Mudariki before Chawambutsa capped off a dominant first half for the hosts with another well worked try as Zimbabwe went to the break leading 24-0.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s national women’s side lost 31-22 in their international match against Zambia — the main curtain raiser
Playing in their first competitive match as a team, the Lady Sables initially got off to a positive start but in the end they ran out of steam.
In the first match of the day, Zimbabwe’s Under-20 beat Zambia Select 45-8.
- Follow Daniel on Twitter @danielnhakaniso