Zimbabwe’s Goshawks opened their 2022 Currie Cup rugby campaign on a losing note after succumbing to 34-10 a defeat to Georgia’s Black Lions despite putting on a solid second half performance at the Brookside Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday.
In an all-international match, Georgian side Black Lions got their first division campaign off to a solid start as they led 17-3 at halftime.
It was the Lions who settled best as they ran in three first-half tries to hold a good lead at the break, before adding another three in the second half, with the Goshawks putting in a better showing to score a try of their own.
Flank Nikoloz Apsiauri was the star of the show on the day, scoring four tries in an action-packed performance that also saw him yellow carded.
The Goshawks were first on the board with a second-minute penalty to flyhalf Boyd Rouse, only for the Lions to hit back with an unconverted score to inside centre Gurami Kandaurashvili three minutes later.
A quickfire double from Apsiauri, the second of which was converted by flyhalf Giorgi Babunashvili, gave the Lions a 17-3 lead after 20 minutes, which they took into halftime after a scoreless second 20.
Apsiauri then continued where he left off in the second half, with two more unconverted scores putting his side up 27-3 after 56 minutes.
A quiet period then followed before the Goshawks scored their converted try in the 74th minute through sub Ernest Mudzengerere, while the Lions finished strong with an 80th-minute converted score to eighthman Luka Ivanishvili.
Goshawks coach Brendan Dawson said despite the result he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I am extremely happy with the way the guys finished off today,” Dawson said.
“We nearly had two tries of our own in the attack play that we should have finished and put away.
“Unfortunately, mistakes were made as we have only been together for a week-and-a-half, so (I am) pretty happy with the effort,” he said.
He said the Georgians were a very good side. “When the Springboks end up training against them, it just goes to show you how good a side they are,” Dawson said.
Zimbabwe are using the Currie Cup First Division to prepare for this year’s Rugby Africa Cup tournament in France.
The continental competition is being used as the final qualifier for the 2023 World Cup to be also hosted in the same country.