Port Elizabeth, South Africa — The Sables juggernaut continued on Tuesday afternoon when they beat hosts Tunisia 30-14 to earn their first ever Africa Cup final slot, writing another piece of history for the national rugby side who finished unbeaten last year.
While the Sables were celebrating their win in Tunis, Tunisia, the Zimbabwe Under-18 side were in the same mood here after registering a win in their first game of the Coca-Cola Craven Week festival at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium following a 31-9 win over Border CD.
However, it was the Sables who had a bigger reason to celebrate as the win over Tunisia also saw them extend their unbeaten run to six - a new winning streak for the senior team.
Having gained promotion into the World Cup qualifying Group 1A last year from second tier Group 1B after finishing tops in the competition, the Sables continued from where they left off to book a place in the Africa Cup final for the first time.
The win on Tuesday now means that the Sables will take on Uganda in the final after the East Africans got the better of defending champions and neighbours Kenya 20-19 at the same venue on Tuesday in the other semi-final.
Last year the Sables finished with a record equalling five wins to finish the 2011 international season unbeaten and on Tuesday night they continued from where they left off but this time with the aim of making it for the 2015 World Cup finals.
All that Brendon Dawson's men need to do now is ensure they maintain the momentum for the World Cup qualifying tournament set for next year.
The winner of next year's edition will be one of Africa's representatives at the 2015 World Cup in England.
According to reports from Tunis two penalties from Tichafara Makwanya and a converted try by lock Jan Ferreira gave Zimbabwe their first half points.
Tangai Nemadire' then added another try in the second half which was converted by second half flyhalf substitute and debutante Lenience Tambwera.
Cheetahs skipper Jacques Leitao also planted a try for Zimbabwe before a Tambwera penalty gave the Sables the win that took them into Saturday's final.
The Sables game against Tunisia was virtually a match of three parts with Zimbabwe dominant in two the sessions as they were the first to get off the mark, scoring
13 points in the opening 18 minutes.
But the Tunisians picked themselves up and, pulling back 11 unreplied points in the first half.
The North Africans also scored three more points early in the second half but the Sables regained control of the game and scored 17 more points.
Dawson also made a double substitution in the second period and introduced youthful Tatenda Karuru coming in for veteran hooker Prayer Chitenderu while Kudakwashe Chiwanza made way for the experienced Gardner Nechironga on the wing.
The Sables coach then threw in former Zimbabwe Under-19 flyhalf Lenience Tambwera for Old Hararians' Tichafara Makwanya and that proved just the tonic the Southern Africans needed.
A good workout in the midfield after winger Nemadire and centre Daniel Hondo resulted in another try and Tambwera had no problem with the bonus points, to add two more points for the Sables sending them into a 20-14 lead.
Another debutant, former Zimbabwe Under-20 fullback Raymond De Jong - who is now based in Australia - fared well with the support of Nemadire and Nechironga while the Sports Club duo of Hondo and Cleopas Makotose held the Zimbabwe attack intact from the midfield.
A few moments on, Dawson decided it was time to make another change in the front row, pulling out Peiter Joubert for another debutante Jakov Jakov who displaced clubmate Kudakwashe Kambasha in the squad.
A foul by the Tunisians resulted in a penalty that saw Zimbabwe opt for the posts and again Tambwera did not disappoint with his boot adding another three points before the Sables added another converted try.
Now the Sables will have their destiny decided on Saturday when they take on the Cranes of Uganda.
Dawson's men will be favourites having twice beaten Uganda in the Africa Cup and once in the Victoria last year.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Under-18 side will be back in action in Port Elizabeth this morning when they take on Limpopo in their second game in the Craven Week festival.
Limpopo are a wounded lion having lost their first game 46-18 to South Western Districts on Tuesday afternoon and the Zimbabwe Under-18 coach Godwin "Jaws" Murambiwa is approaching the game with caution hoping to avoid last year's mistakes.
Last year Zimbabwe beat Border CD in the opening game but went on to lose the next two games including an international against bitter rivals Namibia who this year started by losing 29-36 to Leopards on Monday.
But yesterday Namibia picked themselves up to register a 29-15 win over Griquas.
Denford Mutamangira, Prayer Chitenderu, Jakov Jakov, Constantine Dinha, Jan Ferreira, Shingirai Mpofu, Jacques Leitao, Norman Mukondiwa, Scotty Jones, Tichafara Makwanya, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Daniel Hondo, Cleopas Makotose, 14 Tangai Nemandire, Raymond De Jong
Replacements: Brian Makamure, Piet Joubert, Tatenda Karuru, Fortune Chipendu, T.J. Chifokoyo, Charles Jiji, Gardner Nechironga, Josh Rowe, Lenience Tambwera,
Craven Week Fixtures
Today: Griquas CD v Border CD (9:30am), Limpopo v Zimbabwe (11am), Eastern Province CD v Griffons (12:30pm), Western Province v South Western Districts (2pm), Blue Bulls v Pumas (3:30pm).
Africa Cup Saturday: Tunisia v Kenya (third place play-off), Zimbabwe v Uganda (Final).