ZIM­BABWE’S RWC CHANCE ALIVE

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

NAIROBI, Kenya: The Rugby Africa Gold Cup, fea­tur­ing the con­ti­nent’s best six teams apart from South Africa, got un­der­way last week­end in Dakar and Nairobi. Zim­babwe propped up the table last year and would have lost their top-tier sta­tus had there not been a one-year mora­to­rium on rel­e­ga­tion as part of the com­pe­ti­tion’s ex­pan­sion from four teams to six. This year, how­ever, there will be no such re­prieve and the side fin­ish­ing last will not only be de­moted to the Sil­ver Cup but also suf­fer elim­i­na­tion from the Rugby World Cup 2019 qual­i­fi­ca­tion process. The early signs in Dakar sug­gested that an­other dif­fi­cult cam­paign lay ahead for Zim­babwe – who reached the fi­nals in 1987 and 1991 – as they trailed newly-pro­moted Sene­gal 13-6, but four sec­ond-half tries from Farai Mu­dariki, Stephan Hun­duza and a brace from winger Tafadzwa Kadir helped them to a 28-16 vic­tory. As a re­sult, they earn 1.18 rat­ing points and climb one place in the rank­ings to 35th, at the ex­pense of Moldova. The other Gold Cup fix­ture be­tween Kenya and Uganda dou­bled up as an El­gon Cup de­cider and ended in a thrilling 33-33 draw. It took a late penalty try from the Sim­bas to not only earn a share of the spoils but also se­cure a 10th ti­tle in the an­nual con­test be­tween the neigh­bour­ing na­tions. Uganda can con­sole them­selves, how­ever, with a five-place rise in the rank­ings to 40th, while the loss of one rat­ing point sees Kenya slip be­low Por­tu­gal to 26th on the World Rugby rank­ings. – ANA

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