HomeSportSoccerYoung Sables eye strong finish against Namibia

Young Sables eye strong finish against Namibia

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ZIMBABWE’S Under-18 rugby team will be hoping for a strong finish when they face old rivals Namibia this morning in their final game at the Coca-Cola Craven Week at Paul Roos Gymnasium.

DANIEL NHAKANISO IN STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA

Zimbabwe and Namibia are the only two national sides that play in this tournament, against South African provincial select sides, which makes today’s encounter an official international match.

The Old Mutual Young Sables will head into today’s encounter hoping for a change of fortunes, having struggled to close out matches in this year’s tournament.

The young side conceded two late tries to suffer a heartbreaking 17-12 to Griquas Country Districts in their opening match on Tuesday in a match they looked destined to win after an impressive defensive effort against their physically strong opponents.

On Thursday, Zimbabwe, who rested several senior players in compliance with the tournament rules got off to a flying start against Eastern Province Country Districts and even led the match at halftime before crashing to a 51-20 defeat.

Although results have not been forthcoming, the team has proved that they can compete at the highest level and a win against Namibia today would go a long way in easing the pain from the first two matches.

The Old Mutual Young Sables would also be boosted by the return of several senior players such as skipper Brian Muntanga, full-back Tarisai Mapfumo and Levi Fargnoli, among others.

Zimbabwe Under-18 coach Goodwin Murambiwa said he was hoping his charges would rise to the occasion because of the significance of today’s encounter.

“The boys are geared up. When we come here, we are mindful of Namibia because as you know, the two games that we played were against South African provincial sides and the match against Namibia will be their first big test for Zimbabwe,” Murambiwa said.

“When we started, the target was to win three games, but since we have lost the opening two matches, we would want to go back having won the last match instead nothing at all.”

However, having failed to beat the Namibians since the 2010 edition of the Under-18 Coca Cola Craven Week held in the Free State, the Old Mutual Young Sables will be well aware that they need to be at their best to break the five-year jinx.

Last year, Namibia, who have won one match at this tournament so far, posted a hard-fought 38-25 win over Murambiwa’s teenagers.

With the current Old Mutual Under-18 expected to provide competition for some players in the Under-19 squad to challenge for a place at next year’s Junior World Rugby Trophy, the match against Namibia will be an opportunity for Murambiwa’s side to test themselves.

Zimbabwe, who will host their qualifiers for the global youth tournament next month, have not qualified for the Junior World Rugby Trophy in the last three years, missing out to the Namibians.

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