Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
MADAGASCAR spoiled what would have been a perfect day for Zimbabwe when they beat the Cheetahs 19-12 on the opening day of the Africa Cup Sevens rugby tournament at Legends Sports Club in Kampala, Uganda yesterday.
Zimbabwe had done well to win their first three group stage matches against Mauritius, Botswana and Senegal but found themselves 19-0 down at halftime against Madagascar in their final pool fixture. They fought hard in the second half to score two tries, with wings Shingirai Hlanguyo and Stephan Hunduza breaching the Madagascan defence.
Earlier on in the day, the Hilton Mudariki captained Cheetahs had beaten Mauritius 27-7, Botswana 21-7 and Senegal 17-7.
Cheetahs coach, Gilbert Nyamutsamba attributed the loss to Madagascar to player rotation. He is hopeful that his side will come out firing on the second day.
“We are playing a tournament, let’s see how day two goes tomorrow. Player rotation on day one will always be a factor. Tonight, we review games and work on any knocks and injuries, hopefully tomorrow we come out firing,’’ Nyamutsamba said.
With a ranking system being used, the Cheetahs finished third with Uganda first and Madagascar second. Zimbabwe take on Tunisia in the quarterfinals of the tournament, a match they must win to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for 2018 Sevens Rugby World Cup to be staged in San Francisco, United States of America.
Zimbabwe Cheetahs’ first day results at Africa Cup Sevens
Zimbabwe 27-7 Mauritius, Zimbabwe 21-7 Botswana, Zimbabwe 17- 5 Senegal, Zimbabwe 12-19 Madagascar