It was a day filled with heartbreak for the Cheetahs after they suffered an agonising 19-22 defeat having surrendered a last minute lead to Russia in the final of the World Series core membership qualifier in Hong Kong.
Leading 19-17 in the final minute of the game, Russia came back just as the final hooter went with Vladimir Ostroushko -- who had gifted Zimbabwe with a try a few moments earlier -- scoring the decisive try with a run from his own half.
This means Daniel Hondo’s Cheetahs will have to fight another day for them to make it as a core member -- an opportunity that comes once in a year -- as they failed to realise their dream.
But Ostroushko quickly made amends with a stunning run from well inside his own half in his team’s last possession to give Russia a 22-19 victory in the qualifier final and a place in next season’s elite 15-team global circuit.
It seemed Zimbabwe were already celebrating when they kicked off after the final hooter but Russia, needing to score from one play, broke African hearts.
Russian coach Andrey Sorokin told the media that he had no hope his charges were going to pull a sucker-punch as his players had shown signs of giving up before they pulled themselves together.