Eight male and five female teams put up an exciting and action-packed performance in the Rugby Africa Sevens World Cup qualifiers (www.RugbyAfrique.com) that took place this weekend at the Paa Joe Stadium in Kumasi.
On Saturday, after 11 fixtures, it was Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin and Cote d’Ivoire who proved indomitable in the attractive contest with hundreds of patrons on the day.
The women’s fixture took off early between Ivory Coast and Togo as both teams attempted to score maximum points. This encounter was however brought to temporary halt following an injury sustained by a female Togolese player.
Medics and a standby ambulance moved into swift action but this unexpected event did not dampen the spirit of the Togolese as they moved to the touchline for further instructions.
Proceeding continued with the Ivorians providing little breathing space for their opponent. Following a remarkable display, they went into the first half with a 5-0 advantage. With series of tries and conversions, they were able to maintain the lead throughout the game to win 20-0 at full time.
Similarly, the Burkina Faso women’s team came with speed and agility, posing series of threats to their opponents Benin with a 12-0 victory. Niger and Benin also proved equal strength in the men’s pool as each of them maintained fair control of the game which ended 7-5 in favour of Benin.
The referee for the fast-paced Togo vs Burkina Faso game suffered a hamstring injury. The Burkinabees dominated from start to finish with lots of running and tackles. In the final minutes, the Burkinabees performed a perfect conversion with their speedy forwards to end the game 29 – 0.
The Ghanaian ladies secured 51-0 victory over Togo, thanks to impressive runs by team captain Paulina Mensah who put up a brilliant performance in all two games.
This performance perhaps enabled their male counterparts the Black Eagles to cruise to a convincing victory against Niger.
Niger, in the early minutes, proved tough but the Ghanaians took the lead in the first half after a couple of substitutions. Although the Nigeriens tried to get back, the game ended 32-0 in favor of Ghana.
The Ivorian in another crucial encounter took a 19-0 lead in their first match against Togo and crowned their captivating performance with a 31-0 defeat of their opponents.
The black Eagles and Eaglets continued their unbeaten run on Sunday to progress to the next stage of the Rugby 7s World Cup Qualifiers which ended on an exciting note.
The ladies trashed Cote d’ Ivoire 29 -12 in the final while the men defeated Burkina Faso 17-15 in the breath-stopping game on the day.
Cote d’Ivoire, keeping their defense tight, took the lead with the first but Ghana’s Paulina Mensah was at her best once again with some powerful runs. She scored a try and continued to outsmart her opponents to bring the score to 22-5 at half time.
The Ivorians after a series of substitutions in the dying moments of the game did some conversions to secure some points.
In the thrilling Ghana-Ivory Coast men encounter, the Ghanaians took the lead in the early minutes but their opponents managed to level the score and managed to keep it at 15-10 before half time.
Pushing the host and win agenda, the Ghanaians fans kept pushing their team to go for glory. Top scorer Abdul Jalilu and Captain Selorm Gavor once again stood to the task to secure the maximum points enable the home fans to celebrate the slim-margin victory.
Cote d’Ivoire and Benin played for pride in the third place match with Ivorians making all the magnificent touch downs right from start to winning the game 34-0.
Paulina Mensah was adjudged top scorer and MVP player of the tournament in the women category while the top scorer went to Ghana’s Abdul Jalilu in the men’s pool. The ‘Most Valuable Player’ went to Demay Kassou of Burkina Faso.