The battle of the forwards promises to be the main talking point when the Zimbabwe senior national rugby side, the Sables, take the visiting Kenyan team in Tri-nations Victoria Cup rugby match at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
Even before the start of the Sables’ campaign a fortnight ago, Sables’ coach Brendan Dawson didn’t make a secret of his intention to build his team’s attacking prowess from his pack.
The Sables’ enterprising forward play saw them winning two matches against hosts Uganda and Madagascar in the Africa Cup, where they won promotion to the more competitive Group 1A.
The Sables’ encounter against Uganda which they won 15-25 also counted as the first round of the Victoria Cup.
There is physical menace in Sables’ front row with the steely Danford Mutamangira partnered by the dependable Old Hararians enforcer Prayer Chitenderu at hooker, and the steely Brian Makamure at loose head.
Makamure a former Under-20 star is the only change in the front row as he comes in for Kudakwashe Kambasha.
Twin locks Costa Dinha and the towering Schalke Ferreira who comes in for Fortune Chipendo would give the Sables the edge in the line-out set pieces while also providing the extra impact in the second row.
To complete the forwards pack, the loose trio of eighthman Norman Mukondiwa and flankers Njabulo Ndlovu and Shingi Mpofu will give the pack more mobility and deft ball-carrying ability and also add extra line-out options.
With such a balanced forwards pack and capable extra options on the bench, the Sables cannot afford to be sloppy on the breakdowns to starve the visitors of possession.
Kenya are currently ranked higher than Zimbabwe in the International Rugby Board. The East Africans are ranked 35th while the Sables are in 40th position.
Starting XV: 15 Danny Robertson, 14 Gardner Nechironga, 13 Cleopas Makotose, 12 Daniel Hondo (captain), 11 Kuda Chiwanza, 10 Tichafara Makwanya, 9 Charles Jiji, 8 Norman Mukondiwa, 7 Njabulo Ndlovu, 6 Shingi Mpofu, 5 Costa Dinha, 4 Schalk Ferreira, 3 Brian Makamure, 2 Prayer Chitenderu, 1 Denford Mutamangira.
Head Coach: Brandon Dawson