Netherlands… (7) 7
THE Sables capped off their preparations for next week’s Rugby World Cup qualifiers with a convincing victory against a higher-ranked Netherlands side in a high-profile international Test match at the Rugby Stadium in Amsterdam yesterday.
Playing in their first match on European soil since 2014 when they played Russia in Siberia, the Zimbabwe side put on a dominant display to outmuscle the Dutch team which had been tipped as the favourites ahead of the match.
The Sables scored two tries in each half through centres Takudzwa Chieza and Matthew McNab, fullback Takudzwa Musingwini and hooker Liam Larkan while skipper Hilton and Mudariki chipped in with 10 points from two penalties and as many conversions.
The Netherlands, who were lucky to get on the board, scored their only try of the match through a 60-meter breakaway try by flank Liam Stone after the Zimbabwe players stopped waiting for a knock call that never came.
In fact, the Sables could have won the match by a bigger margin as Mudariki and Musingwini, who were alternating the kicking duties, missed several scoring opportunities from the kicking tee.
The kicking blues aside, the Sables were worthy winners on the day as their clearly superior forwards demolished their opponents during both the scrums and the lineout set-pieces to set up the platform for the backline to attack.
While Zimbabwe’s defence was hardly tested by the Dutch, the visitors did show some resolve in the final moments of the match after finishing the match with 14 men after wing Shayne Makombe was sent to the sin-bin.
Heading into the clash, Netherlands were the better-ranked team in 26th on the global standings while Zimbabwe are ranked number 34.
However, the Sables are set to jump six places to 27th when the World Rugby Rankings are updated tomorrow while the Netherlands will drop to 28th.
After yesterday’s win the Sables will return to France to prepare for their Rugby Africa Cup quarterfinal against Ivory Coast on July 2.
This year’s Rugby Africa Cup, which will be held in France from July 1 to 10, 2022 also serves as the final round of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying for African countries.