By Sports Reporter
Border Bulldogs ………………… (19) 41
Zimbabwe Rugby Academy….(16) 16
The Zimbabwe Rugby Academy got their SuperSport Rugby Challenge campaign off to a disappointing start after running out of steam in the second half to suffer a 41-16 defeat to an impressive Border Bulldogs side at the BCM Stadium in East London, South Africa on Sunday.
Zimbabwe looked on course to cause an upset in their debut appearance in the competition after restricting the hosts to a slender 19-16 lead at the break.
After having been together in camp for a few days before the start of the competition, the Zimbabwe side’s lack of match fitness was exposed in the second half as Bulldogs cruised to a convincing win.
Border got off to a superb start in the match when winger Sipho Nofemele gathered his own kick to score a brilliant converted try under the posts.
The visiting Zimbabwe Academy side responded with two penalty goals by captain Brendon Mandivenga, before a second try by Border opened the gap between the sides again.
Scrumhalf Bangi Kobese was quick to respond with a tap penalty near the Zimbabwe tryline, catching the visitors’ defence napping.
A strong run by centre Riaan O’Neill set up Zimbabwe’s first try in the competition, with flanker Brian Nyaude dotting down.
Mandivenga converted, but from the restart, his forwards dropped the ball and Border hooker Lubabalo Lento showed superb handling skills to score in the corner for the home side.
After matching their opponents pound for pound in the first half, the Zimbabwe Academy appeared to run out of steam in the second half which was completely dominated Border.
Flyhalf Aphiwe Stemele opened the scoring with an early penalty goal before a well-worked line-out move saw Nofemele diving over in the corner for his second try.
Hard-working flanker Onke Dubase extended the lead with a well-deserved try before Stemele provided the final nail in the coffin with an intercept try under the posts.
The Zimbabwe Academy side play their second match against Sharks at the False Bay Rugby Club in Cape Town on Sunday.
POINT SCORERS – BORDER BULLDOGS
Tries: Siphosenkosi Nofemele (2), Bangihlombe Kobese, Lubabalo Lento, Onke Dubase, Aphiwe Stemele
Conversions: Aphiwe Stemele (4)
Penalty: Aphiwe Stemele
POINT SCORERS – ZIMBABWE ACADEMY
Try: Brian Nyaude
Conversion: Brendon Mandivenga
Penalties: Brendon Mandivenga (3)