A year to the day after losing his international place on tour, Craig Joiner bounced back with three of Scotland's nine tries in an easy victory over Zimbabwe yesterday.
Scott Nichol, the top try-scorer north of the border last season, also recorded a hat-trick while Hugh Gilmore crossed twice out on the wing. A touchdown from Eric Peters added to the rout, but the fact that this was the only forwards' try was a mystery considering the dominance Scotland enjoyed up front. The open-side flanker, Simon Holmes, was first to every breakdown and the locks, Stuart Grimes and Scott Murray, imposed themselves at will on opposition whose biggest player stood a mere 6ft 3in.
Zimbabwe, who had beaten Namibia 32-26 but lost 13-42 to Tonga in the build-up, were never completely subdued and had a visionary scrum-half in Isaac Mbereko, who was rewarded with a try after intercepting a pass by Derrick Lee intended for Gilmore as he tried to run out of defence.
Scotland, who used their substitutes extensively, partly in view of Friday's tough follow-up with Gauteng Lions (formerly Transvaal) in Johannesburg, could not have wished for a better start. They will be hoping that their first-choice outside-half, Craig Chalmers, the most experienced player in the party, will recover from a hamstring injury in time for the Gauteng game.
Zimbabwe: Try Mbereko. Conversion Tsimba. Penalty Tsimba. Scotland: Tries Joiner 3, Nichol 3, Gilmore 2, Peters. Conversions Hodge 5.
ZIMBABWE: D Trevalla; C Graham, T Manyimo, J Ewing, A Janni; K Tsimba, I Imbreko; R Moore, A Knight, P Staak, B Catterall, T Tabuuma, D Kirkman (capt), B Dawson, J Durand.
SCOTLAND: D Lee (London Scottish); C Joiner (Leicester), S Nichol (Melrose), R Eriksson (London Scottish), H Gilmore (Heriot's FP); D Hodge (Watsonians) A Nichol (capt; Bath); G Graham (Newcastle), G Bulloch (West) B Stewart (Edinburgh Accies), S Murray (Bedford), S Campbell (Melrose), E Peters (Bath), C Hogg (Melrose), S Holmes (London Scottish). Replacements: S Grimes (Watsonians) for Campbell, 40; G Burns (Watsonians) for A Nichol, 46; S Longstaff (Dundee High) for Eriksson, 55; R Shepherd (Melrose) for Lee, 60;
Referee: M Wyles (Zimbabwe).