By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S national rugby team continued its gradual rise on the World Rugby Rankings moving into position 32 and third in Africa by overtaking East African side Kenya following their 32-26 win over Uganda in a Victoria Cup match played at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
The Sables’ imperious form continued on Saturday with a solid win over Uganda to take their unbeaten run in the four-nation tournament which also involves Kenya and neighbours Zambia.
The Zimbabwe side’s fourth straight victory in the four-nation Victoria Cup cements their place at the top of the Victoria Cup standings and also sees them climb up a place in the global rankings to 32nd and third in Africa behind South Africa (5th) and Namibia (23rd).
Zimbabwe scored four tries through forwards Blithe Mavesere, Keith Murray, Godfrey Muzanargwo and Matthew Mandioma and captain Hilton Mudariki kicked two conversions and a penalty, while fly-half Dudlee White-Sharpley also chipped in with five points from a penalty and a conversion.
But the prolific kicking of talented full-back Philip Wokorach, who contributed 16 points from four penalties and two conversions to add to two tries from centre Michael Wokorach and flanker Byron Oketayot, meant the result was in doubt right up until the final whistle.
Zimbabwe coach Brendan Dawson said he was delighted with his team’s performance after they overcame the absence of several key players due to injuries to post an important win.
“It was a tight game but I am happy we managed to win. It’s a massive victory for us and I would like to congratulate the trio who made their full Test debut in this match.
“They played well in all aspects of the game. They impressed me with their energy, their technic and ethic,” said Dawson.
Zimbabwe are in inspiring form after going for four matches without tasting defeat in the Victoria Cup.
They beat Uganda away, outplayed Zambia at home before grinding out a tough home win against Kenya in Bulawayo three weeks ago.
The former Zimbabwe captain, who is in his second stint as Sables coach said his charges are already focused on their reverse fixture against Zambia early next month.
“We are already preparing for the game against Zambia and I know they are a tough opponent. We played well and got a result. During the last game against Kenya we were forced to make errors. I am happy this is a young team and they keep on improving,” said Dawson.
Meanwhile Africa’s highest ranked rugby nation, the South Africa Springboks have slipped a spot to fifth in the official World Rugby rankings.
This follows the past weekend’s result at Twickenham where England thumped Ireland 57-15 in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match.
England, courtesy of winning by more than 15 points, moved above South Africa and Ireland into third after claiming 1.33 ratings points.
South had overtaken England the previous week after a 24-18 win over Argentina in Pretoria, with England going down 13-6 to Wales in Cardiff.
Ireland had entered this past weekend’s match in high spirits, knowing a win would see them reach to summit of the rankings for the first time ever.
Instead, they suffered their worst-ever defeat to England, conceding eight tries in the process.
Elsewhere, Scotland moved past France into seventh following their 17-14 win in Edinburgh.