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Cheetahs hunting in George


Zimbabwe coach Liam Middleton feels his side’s good form on the Sevens rugby circuit can provide them with much-needed international exposure.

The Cheetahs impressively made the bowl final at last weekend’s Dubai Sevens, eventually losing out to an Argentina side that they had surprisingly beaten during the previous day’s pool stages.

This weekend the HSBC Sevens World Series bandwagon heads to South Africa’s George where the Cheetahs will again meet the Pumas on Friday along with Portugal and hosts South Africa.

“South Africa will provide a big African clash – that will be a fantastic match. Portugal beat England in Dubai so they will be a pretty gritty side and then we meet Argentina again for a third time in a week,” Middleton told the IRB.

“We will be out to overturn the disappointment of that loss in the bowl final. Lot of motivation there, we set our goals high and would love a cup quarter-final which would mean beating two of those teams. We look at that and it’s achievable.”

Despite the Zimbabwe Rugby Union’s constant financial battles, the Cheetahs’ showing in Dubai highlighted their potential and the coach is hoping this can build momentum for the side.

“We’re very pleased about how we did. Getting to the bowl final in such a competitive tournament was a big achievement for us. We were obviously very disappointed not to win that final.

“What we took from it was a lot of confidence that we finished ahead of core teams. We really put our stamp on the tournament from that prospective.”

Middleton is hoping further improvements and core team scalps will gain the side greater recognition globally which can only benefit Zimbabwe rugby in the long term.

“We have the intention of bringing a very competitive world series team and I think every tournament we play in we turn over one of the big sides.

“If we can keep doing that our profile will rise and hopefully provide us with opportunities in future as the Series expands. I think the future is bright off the back of these type of performances.”

The all-Africa clash with South Africa is one of the standout fixtures on Friday with the partisan crowd guaranteed to be in good voice following the two local sides. Middleton thinks it could bring out the best in his team.

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