Sables miss out on automatic World Cup ticket

HARARE - For a moment yesterday, Zimbabwe stood on the threshold of a third World Cup qualification berth, their first since 1991, after a gallant display to beat an organised Kenyan side 28-10 in Antananarivo.

But their hopes were cruelly dashed by Namibia, who went on to massacre hosts Madagascar 89-10 later in the day to earn automatic qualification to next year’s Rugby World Cup finals in England.

After the Sables failed to win with a bonus point, a Namibia victory against the hosts by less than 52 points would have sealed Zimbabwe’s first qualification in more than two decades.

There are those among the Zimbabwean fans who will blame the decision by flyhalf Guy Cronje to kick for post on 77 minutes, and with that sacrificing that much needed fourth try.

But from the looks of things, it all boiled out to insufficient preparations by a talented Zimbabwean side, which with just a portion of what their opponents Kenya and Namibia had to prepare for the games, would have so easily qualified for England next year.

Kenya received $8 million from their government to prepare for these qualifiers, but that the Sables, who only trained for 10 days, were able to put the East Africans in their place in the end.

What it shows is that that four point different we lost to Namibia wouldn’t have been the case had we had decent preparations. The Sables will look back at that 24-20 defeat to Namibia as the day their World Cup dream went up in smoke.

Tries from scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki, flyhalf Guy Cronje and centre Riaan O’Neill had thrust the Sables into pole position in the African Cup, which also doubled as World Cup qualifiers.

But later on at the Stade Municipal de Mahamasima in Antananarivo, Namibia needed no further invitation at the chance qualify for their fifth consecutive World Cup and by half time they had already confirmed their place at England 2015 with a massive 63-0 lead.

By the end of the match, they had run out 89-10 winners, taking them to 10 points on the log standings but a superior point’s difference of 27 to Zimbabwe.

Many questions were left hanging over Cronje’s decision to kick for posts when Zimbabwe were awarded a penalty deep into Kenyan territory and had an opportunity for a five pointer.

And Brendan Dawson will feel proud of the way his men resolutely defended wave after wave of Kenya’s attack with minutes left on the clock.

From here, Zimbabwe now proceed to the play offs to face Russia in a one-off test in Siberia in in the first round of the Repechage in August for a chance to face the winner between Hong Kong and Uruguay.

The match againstHong Hong or Uruguay will be played in a home and away basis.

Comments (2)

How exactly was that Cronje's fault? He was lying falttened, injured on the pitch when the captain chose to go for posts. Is always the captain's call when it comes to things like that and looks like there was a fair amount of miscommunication with the bench. Was still an excellent performance by Zim when you consider the fact that everyone was writing them off before the game following the Namibia game.

Dan - 7 July 2014

Well said Dan...the writer is clearly a novice when it comes to the game. Ignorant reporting really.

mukwerekwere - 7 July 2014

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