ZIMBABWE UNDER-20 ….(31) 55
IVORY COAST UNDER-20……0
DEFENDING champions Zimbabwe laid down an early marker of their lofty ambitions after kick starting their title defence at the Rugby Africa Under-20 Barthes Trophy with a dominant 55-0 win over Ivory Coast at the Nyayo International Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya yesterday.
Heading into the game, Zimbabwe were overwhelming favourites after emerging champions in the same country last year and they did the tag justice by racing to a 31-0 lead by half time on their way to an impressive victory.
Zimbabwe will now face Tunisia in the semi-finals on Wednesday after the North Africans cruised to a 50-16 win in their semi-final match yesterday.
The well-oiled Junior Sables were simply unstoppable against the shell-shocked Ivorians who offered very little resistance.
The Shaun de Souza-coached Junior Sables went on a rampage scoring nine unanswered tries while exciting flyhalf Brendan Marume managed five conversions.
Outside centre Dion Khumalo scored the game’s first try with Marume missing the ensuing conversion.
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Blind side flank Tanaka Ndoro, inside centre Alex Nyamuda, and lock Allan Mawunga (2) then got Zimbabwe’s first-half tries with Marume managing three conversions.
Despite losing their rhythm after the break, Zimbabwe were still impressive as they added further tries from open-side flank Muzuva Gutu, winger Simbarashe Kanyangarara, fullback Benoni Nhekairo as well as replacement scrumhalf Shadreck Mandaza after the break.
Zimbabwe coach De Souza was pleased with his team’s overall performance as they began their campaign with a victory but admitted that they needed to polish up on a few areas ahead of their semi-final clash against Tunisia on Wednesday.
“It was what we expected,” De Souza said after the match.
“We knew that Côte d’Ivoire would not be as strong, as fluent as they looked,” he said.
“So our key focus was to manage our set-pieces, focus on our line-outs, focus on our scrimmaging, which we dominated. We struggled a bit earlier in the game with the wet ball, with a bit of unforced errors in contact, but we rectified that as the sun came out. I think the boys look good, we had very good positives in attack. There are a few areas which we need to polish up in defence. Although Ivory Coast didn’t score any points, there are a few areas in our defensive system that we need to polish up. We will do our game review this afternoon and have a team meeting this evening building into the next stage of the tournament.”