The dream of qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 remains alive for Botswana after they beat Mauritius 25-14 at the University of Botswana Stadium in Gaborone on Saturday to top the Africa Cup Division 1C standings from Ivory Coast.
The margin of victory was just enough to see Botswana claim the title and with it promotion to Division 1B in 2013, when only the top divisions of the Africa Cup will be part of the RWC 2015 qualification process.
Ivory Coast had earlier beaten Zambia 24-18 to make it two wins from two in the five-team competition, but Botswana’s win gave them a point differential one better than their rivals and top spot.
The decisive score for Botswana came eight minutes from time when wing Edward Ossthuizen converted Tshoganetso Katse’s try to make certain of victory and the title, the hosts making the most of their man advantage after the sin-binning of Robert Boulle.
Botswana had started brightly with tries by Derbie de Beer and Munya Mhonda establishing a 12-3 advantage, but Mauritius – who had beaten Nigeria on day one – cut that deficit to just a point by the interval.
Mauritius did take the lead with a penalty early in the second half, but Ossthuizen’s boot regained the lead for Botswana before landing the decisive conversion to the delight of the home crowd.
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The Ivorians had to overcome a slow start which saw Zambia, beaten by Botswana the previous weekend, race into a 12-0 lead in as many minutes with tries from wing John Mulenga and prop Angel Chibwe.
However, two tries of their own through second row Issiaka Meite and wing Oscar Lasme and the boot of Jean Oulouma edging them into a lead by half time, one they would not surrender for the rest of the match.
They failed to cross the try-line again, but the boot of Oulouma kept the scoreboard ticking over with two penalties in the last six minutes making certain of victory for the Ivory Coast.
There was some consolation for the Ivory Coast, who are one of only four African teams to have played on the Rugby World Cup stage, as they have climbed two places in the latest IRB World Rankings.
Ivory Coast now occupy 46th spot, the small gain of 0.15 rating points for victories over Nigeria and Zambia enough to lift them above both the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.
Zambia remain in 76th position despite the loss, albeit now a little closer to Botswana below them.