Sables dominate Zambia in rugby test

05 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Sables dominate Zambia in rugby test

The Sunday Mail

Zimpapers Sports Hub

Zimbabwe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  (24) 32

Zambia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  (6) 28

IT might not have been the clinical execution that Piet Benade had hoped for, but the new Zimbabwe coach had many positives to take away, as the Sables maintained their dominance over Zambia in an international rugby Test at Prince Edward School yesterday.

Led by hooker Liam Larkhan, the hosts controlled the game and were full value for their triumph.

Larkhan ran himself rugged in this encounter that marked the Sables’ much-awaited return to international rugby.

He did everything from tackling and kicking to scoring tries.

Centre Kudzai Mashawi showed he still got some gas in the tank with a fine show on his return to the team, while Keegan Jourbert, featuring at flyhalf, showed some leadership qualities needed in midfield.

Benade seems to have depth to call on from his new-look Sables, with the likes of Dion Khumalo, Tadius Dzandiwandira and Patrick Maclin all putting in a good shift yesterday.

There is also a host of other soon-to-be-promoted Under-20 players, who were left out of contention for yesterday’s game as they were given time to rest after their Barthes Trophy assignment last week.

Yesterday’s Test between Zimbabwe and Zambia brought the curtain down on the Mwana Group International Schools Rugby Festival. And Zimbabwe ensured it would be a double over Zambia after the Lady Sables narrowly edged the visitors 19-17 in an earlier game.

Skipper Chiwoniso Mabika marked her return to the team with a brace of tries.

It was Zimbabwe’s first win over Zambia since 2015, but more importantly, Mabika finally managed to finish a game and lead her young team to victory.

The last time these two teams met in 2021, Mabika lasted less than six minutes before she was taken off with a concussion after a crude tackle from one of her opponents.

For the Sables, tries from Larkhan, Aiden Burnett, Mashawi and Dion Khumalo helped see off the Zambian challenge in a contest in which the visitors showed tenacity.

Dzandiwandira chipped in with three conversions and two penalties.

The hosts started the brighter of the two teams as the Sables’ forward dominated the scrums, set-pieces and possession for the first 40 minutes.  It seemed inevitable that they would turn that dominance into points, with Larkhan, Burnett and Mashawi touching down. Dzandiwandira converted all three and added another penalty.

Despite being on the back foot, Zambia kept the Sables in check as the Leopards’ Terry Kaushiku kept the scoreboard ticking with two late penalties and went to the break trailing 24-6.

Those points would come in handy in the second half as the visitors mounted an admirable comeback.

Zambia hit back during the second stanza with tries from David Chimbukulu, Butemwe Koloko and lock Vincent Nhole. Kaushiku followed those tries up with two conversions and another penalty.

“We were very happy with the win,” said Benade. “We had a very good first half, but Zambia came back well in the second, capitalising on some of our defensive errors.

“We were in full control of the game and put ourselves under a lot of pressure, credit to the Zambians for that effort.

“On the positives, we were good at the scrums and set-pieces, which is a huge positive, but we will need to work on our fitness, conditioning and game management going forward.”

Zambia’s vice-captain Hillary Mwashi tried to look on the bright side of the game and credited his team’s second-half efforts.

“It was certainly a game of two halves for us, starting badly in the first half and then coming back strong in the second,” he said.

“Zimbabwe did well to get ahead, scoring those two quick tries and taking the early advantage.

“However, our coaching staff told us to come back with more intensity and then see where we end up at the end of the match.”

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