The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE have set up a much-anticipated semi-final clash with Namibia in the Rugby Africa Cup after both teams won their respective quarter-final fixtures at the Stade Delort, Marseille, France on Friday.
The Sables overpowered Ivory Coast 38-11 after Namibia had hammered Burkina Faso 71-5 in the first quarter-final match. Zimbabwe take on Namibia at Stade Maurice David, Aix-en-Provence on Tuesday where the two teams will be fighting for a place in the final scheduled for 10 July.
Second centre Matthew McNab opened the scoring for Zimbabwe with a try and right-wing Shayne Makombe gave the Sables their second five-pointer for the Zimbabweans to lead going into the break.
After halftime, Makombe scored his second try of the match, the third for Zimbabwe. Replacement loose forward Aiden Burnett added a fourth try for the Sables before Matthew Mandioma finished off the scoring right at the end with a try.
Skipper Hilton Mudariki kicked in two penalty goals and a conversion while fullback Tapiwa Mafura booted in one conversion. Burnett was sent off after a scuffle just before the end of the match and is out of Zimbabwe’s match against Namibia.
The Brendan Dawson-coached Sables have to be at their best to overcome Namibia seeing that the Welwitschias have dominated past meetings between the two teams. Namibia won the last clash against Zimbabwe in November last year 41-10 in the Stellenbosch Challenge played in South Africa.
Zimbabwe last defeated Namibia in July 2001 when the Sables triumphed 27-26 in an African Championship fixture played at Hartsfield Rugby Ground. The Sables have only triumphed three times against the Namibians in 33 matches, which means they have an uphill task ahead of them come Tuesday.
One thing for sure is that whoever wins the match between Zimbabwe and Namibia has a great opportunity to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup in France. The two are the highest ranked African teams after South Africa on the World Rugby rankings.
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