Sables eye breakdown dominance

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ZIMBABWE rugby coach Cyprian Mandenge has identified the breakdown as a key area they will need to improve ahead of the Sables’ Africa Cup opener against Kenya at Prince Edward School on Saturday.

BY DANIEL NHAKANISO

Mandenge presided over the team’s field training sessions at Old Hararians Sports Club yesterday morning and expressed satisfaction with the way his players were responding to training.

“I’m happy with the quality we have. The guys are really focused, they are here to play and represent their country,” Mandenge told NewsDay Sport.

The Sables will be eager to get their campaign off to a winning start after their fierce rivals Namibia beat Tunisia 22-14 in the coastal town of Nabeul at the weekend.

“Breakdown is a major issue. If you want to win a game of rugby you have to dominate in that area so we have been working on the breakdowns a lot. I believe our strength as a team is speed and skill so we have been working on that too,” he added.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the time and we will shift to working on the specifics like our backline play, line-out set pieces and defence which is also another major issue because the guys need to understand the defensive patterns.”

Sables coach Cyprian Mandenge oversees yesterday's training session at Old Hararians Sports Club yesterday 1

The areas raised by Mandenge will be critical for the Sables’ hopes on Saturday, especially against their better prepared opponents.

While the Sables last played a competitive fixture last year in a 2015 Rugby World Cup playoff qualifier in Russia last year, the Kenyans hosted Portugal in Nairobi two weeks ago in a match they won 41-15.

History, however, favours the Sables in this clash as they have won 11 times in the 16 matches they have played against the Kenyans since 1981.

Infact the last time the two teams met the Sables beat Kenya 28-10 in a 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifier in Madagascar last year to deny the East African nation a dream ticket to England.

However, Mandenge, who is expected to trim his squad later this week after naming seasoned loose-head prop Denford Mutamangira as the new Sables coach on Sunday, said he was not focusing much on his opponents but his charges.

“We might have beaten them the last time but they have been working hard ever since then. As a coach I have always said you can’t control the opposition but the way you play. We are going to focus on our systems, that is both defensively and on the offence,” he said. “We know they have a few big boys, and they might also want to play running game because they are quick but we just have to believe in our systems,” Mandenge said.

Sables Training Squad

Forwards: Denford Mutamangira (captain), Tatenda Murwira, Farai Mudariki, Pieter Joubert, Lawrence Clemenson, Royal Mwale, Kudzai Muzorewa, Jan Ferreira, Martin Wolfenden, Sanele Sibanda, Biselele Tshamala, Tadiwa Parirenyatwa, Andrew Rose, Fortune Chipendu, Kingsley Lang, Shingai Mpofu, David Makamba

Backs: Charles Jiji, Taddy Whata, Tichafara Makwanya, Lenience Tambwera, Boyd Rouse, Riaan O’Neil, Stephan Hunduza, Gardner Nechironga, Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, Tangai Nemadire, Lungile Tshuma, Malvern Maparura, Cleopas Makotose, Daniel Capsopolous, Kuda Chiwanza, Mclean Muhambi, Andrea Banda, Kilvan Magunje