ZIMBABWE national rugby side, the Sables, yesterday finished third in the Emirates Four-Nations rugby tournament with a 65-14 win over a lowly United Arab Emirates at 7he Stadium in Dubai.
This effectively became the fourth biggest victory for the Sables in all Test matches following their 130-10 win over Botswana, 111-12 triumph against Nigeria and the 66-15 win over Madagascar in 1987. The victory also means that the Sables finished third in the four-team competition after losing their first two games to Hong Kong and Belgium and are expected to touch down at the Harare International Airport at 5.30pm today.
By half-time the Sables had a 17-9 advantage following two converted tries and a penalty while the hosts had slotted in two penalties.
But the best was yet to come as the African champions added 51 points and the hosts only replied with a try.
It was the Emirates' first try since they were awarded International Rugby Board full membership at the beginning of this month.
Some of the Sables' points came from winger Kudakwashe Chiwanza, who scored a brace of tries, flyhalf Tichafara Makwanya, both with the boot and a touch down, while Biselele Tshamala, Takunda Chifokoyo and Jan Ferreira weighed in with tries as well as Simbarashe Chirimuuta's try on debut.
Assistant coach Cyprian "Supa" Mandenge believes his side could have done better.
"It was a good performance despite the slow start but I feel that we could have done better and this win also boosts the confidence of the junior players in the side going into next year's games. It was all because they believed in the game plan and at some point we seemed to have lost it, giving United Arab Emirates room to attack us and at one stage we were a just a point ahead of them but we did not panic.
"And we had to make some changes to our game approach at half time and when they (UAE) relaxed we continued to pick on their mistakes despite them matching us at some point," said the former Harare Sports Club coach.
Having won the Africa Cup a few months ago, the Sables were invited to Namibia where they lost two games after travelling with 12 new faces before connecting to Dubai with an additional eight new caps in the side. "There is need for the side to play together for longer periods and it is unfortunate that some of the players were not available for various reasons while others were on duty with the Cheetahs.
"But that has had a huge (negative) bearing on our rankings and I think we always need the best players to be available for such assignments," he said.
Forwards: Tapiwa Mangezi, Pieter Joubert, Nic Winwood, Keith Murray, Simba Musarurwa, Brian Makamure, Costa Dinha, Jan Ferreira, Sanele Sibanda, Biselele Tshamala, Shingirai Mpofu, Tonderai Chigumbura, Takunda Chifokoyo.
Backs: Scotty Jones, Graham Kaulback, Lenience Tambwera, Tichafara Makwanya, Tommy Nelson, Gavin Nyawata, Simbarashe Chirimuuta, Josh Rowe, Kudakwashe Chiwanza, Shane Makombe, Steven Hunduza, John McWade.
Coach: Brandon Dawson
Assistant: Cyprian Mandenge
Manager: Losson Mtongwiza
Physio: Abigail Mnikwa.