OLD Hararians captain Tichafara Makwanya believes the newly-crowned Lion Lager National Rugby League champions can go on to dominate the local rugby league after claiming their first domestic title in eight years with a 29-27 win over Old Georgians in the final on Saturday.
The talented flyhalf, whose prodigious kicking game kept Old Hararians in the match after a poor first half show said it was important for the senior players in the side to impart their vast knowledge to the younger players at the club.
“I think we can maintain these standards and defend our title next season. There are a few experienced guys in the team like Gerald Chinyani, Costa Dinha, and Tich Chidongo.”
“Hopefully, we can retain them and keep them playing for the next few years so that they can and help groom the young players who might hopefully come and take their spots,” said Makwanya.
Old Hararians were once a dominant force in Zimbabwean rugby at the turn of the millennium, claiming six titles in 10 years, but their fortunes had taken a deep in recent years and they had not won the title since 2005.
The Old Boys, as Old Hararians are affectionately known, however, saw their fortunes improve this season under the tutelage of Cyprian Mandenge, who took over at the start of the season.
Makwanya said Saturday’s win was a huge achievement for the club and a major step in reclaiming their glory.
“It’s definitely a big achievement for us. OH is definitely the biggest and most successful club in the country, but it had been a long time since we had won the league title and I hope with this win we have shown what we are capable of.”
He, however, admitted that they were pushed all the way by Old Georgians in the first half, where Old Georgians threatened to run away with the match.
The Old Boys were slow off the blocks and in most instances were guilty of forced handling errors in the early period as they could hardly spread the ball down the line.
However, they returned from the breather a rejuvenated side following the introduction of seasoned scrumhalf Tich Chidongo, Gardner Nechironga and Takudzwa Chieza.
“We had to take a hard look at ourselves at the break. The quality we have in terms of the players we have wasn’t reflecting in our first half performance so we decided to knuckle down and play for each other and fortunately it worked in the end.”
Meanwhile, Old Georgians coach Grant Mitchell blamed his side’s defeat to a poor second half display.
“It was definitely a game of two halves. We controlled it nicely in the first half, we stuck to our plan. In the second half we allowed them to run at us. When they get the momentum and the forward ball they are a good side and that’s why they are in the final.
Congratulations to OH there were deserved winners.”