x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Cup of Nations: Victory comes at a cost for Belgium ahead of final match

Belgium claim a 28-11 win over Zimbabwe, but face losing key personnel to injury for their showdown with Hong Kong after a bruising encounter in Dubai.

Zimbabwe try to block another Belgian attack at the Emirates Cup of Nations.
Zimbabwe try to block another Belgian attack at the Emirates Cup of Nations.

Belgium 28 Zimbabwe 11

DUBAI // Hong Kong's defence of the Cup of Nations could be aided by the fact Belgium are counting the cost of their bruising encounter with Zimbabwe yesterday.

The champions will be giving away five places in the world rankings when they meet the European side in the decisive fixture on Friday evening.

However, the Belgians could be without some key personnel come the weekend, following their 28-11 win over Zimbabwe.

The tournament's citing commissioner, Matthew Oakley, will have plenty to pore over this morning when he assesses the video of a match which included four yellow cards and a red.

Alain Mirialakis, the Belgian front-rower, was given his marching orders and is likely to miss Friday's finale, but his team are confident they will have the card rescinded.

"We firmly believe it wasn't intentional as he is a fair player and has never been involved in incidents like this before," said Alan Williams, the full-back who was again Belgium's stand out performer.

"[However] discipline was a big disappointment for us and is definitely something we have to work on."

Zimbabwe also lost two players to the sin-bin, and Brendan Dawson, their coach, was livid as he felt the officials lost control of the game.

"When we come to tournaments like this we are expecting the best because we, as a Zimbabwe side, are trying to improve," he said.

"There was no control of the game. I'm gutted. If we had played like we had in the last 10 for the full 80 minutes, I think it would have been a different story."