After week from hell Tunisia beat Zimbabwe in Rugby World Cup qualifier

Alex Broun 16:59 08/07/2018
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Tunisia make a break against Zimbabwe

In a match that threatened to turn ugly Tunisia have edged out Zimbabwe 18-14 in an African Rugby World Cup qualifier in Beja, Tunisia on Saturday.

Lenience Tambwagra scored all the points for the visitors with two converted tries while for Tunisia Mohamed Mliss and Issam Ouerhani scored tries with Mohamed Ali Gafsi adding two penalties and a conversion.

The lead up to the match had developed into an international scandal after the Zimbabwe team slept on the streets earlier in the week rather than stay in the accommodation organized for them by the Tunisian Rugby Union.

According to the Zimbabwe team the hotel provided was completely unlivable and when photos of the Zimbabwe team sleeping in the street went viral, the Tunisia Rugby Union was forced to apologise.

But Tunisia then hit back saying there was nothing wrong with the accommodation and a Zimbabwe official was being unreasonable. The Tunisia team then even posed for a mock photo satirizing the Zimbabweans. (see below)

With such a tense build-up fireworks were expected after kick off.

Just six minutes into the game, Ali Gafsi came close to giving Tunisia the lead when he missed a penalty.

Mliss finally opened the scoring on 24 minutes scoring a try which Ali Gafsi again failed to convert.

Tunisia’s lead was shortlived as just three minutes later Tambwagra tied the score for Zimbabwe with a try before adding the conversion himself to put his team up 7-5 at half time.

Tambwagra added another try on 51 minutes to deepen Tunisia’s wounds, which he again converted to give Zimbabwe a comfortable 14-5 lead.

However a penalty from Ali Gafsi on 57 minutes brought the hosts within six points and a converted try to Ouerhani four minutes later gave them the lead.

Zimbabwe threw everything at the Tunisian line but in the final moments of the game, Tunisia were able to secure their win with another penalty to Ali Gafsi.

“On the international level, we beat Zimbabwe last year,” said Tunisia coach Ahmed Guerbech after the match.

“We prepared well for this game. We still have three more games that are not going to be easy, two of which are away games.

“Today, we guaranteed an 80% chance of staying in Group A. The players spared no effort and they were true gladiators on the pitch, they made sacrifices by leaving everything behind and joining the team. Bravo to the team.”

Zimbabwe coach Jacob Stoman added: “What went wrong was obviously costly errors from our end. Each time we made a mistake, it got Tunisia back in the game.

“We lacked composure. Tunisia took advantage of that window of mistakes, that what sport is about, when you are given an opportunity, take it and go for it.”

Tunisia now travel to Kampala to take on Uganda on August 4 while Zimbabwe host table-topping Namibia in Harare on the same day.

Africa Gold Cup Standings as of July 7
1.Namibia 15
2.Kenya 12
3.Tunisia 4
4.Morocco 3
5.Zimbabwe 3
6.Uganda 0

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