THE Zimbabwe Under-18 rugby team will look to complement their strong defensive effort from their last match with an improvement during set-piece time when they tackle Eastern Province Country Districts in their second Coca-Cola Craven Week encounter at Paul Roos Gymnasium today.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA
The match kicks off at 10:30 hours and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Former Zimbabwe international Graham Kaulback, who is on his maiden assignment as the Young Sables assistant coach, said they were hoping for an improvement in their set-piece and breakdown play.
The Young Sables defended superbly during the 17-12 loss to Griquas Country Districts on Tuesday but were at times found wanting in the tight phases during crucial periods of the hard-fought encounter.
“Obviously, there are some areas that we will look to improve going forward,” said Kaulback. “The boys put on a great defensive effort in very difficult conditions, it was very slippery for both teams, but they did very well. We are hoping to improve on our line-out because we felt we were not very successful in that area and also our ruck on attack can also be improved to create continuity because the ball was too slow,” he said.
Head coach Goodwin Murambiwa and his technical department made seven changes to the starting XV in compliance with the competition’s policy where every player in the 22-man squad is given a chance to prove themselves in the first two matches.
“We were fortunate to have a very strong squad which is quite balanced so the guys who are coming from the bench should be up for the challenge,” said Kaulback.
“I believe in every single one of them, they’re first team players for their respective schools.”
The Old Mutual-sponsored Young Sables side which will be captained by Peterhouse flank Cuan Zeederberg will head into today’s clash with a new front row combination.
St Georges’s College loose-head Kenny Liam will prop with hooker Tinotenda Masasanure and tight-head Cleopas Kundiona in a front three which has a total weight of 308kg.
St George’s College’s Tinashe Muchena, who was immense at the breakdown against Griquas CD, retained his place in the second row where he will partner schoolmate Kevin Chisango.
Murambiwa has kept faith in the loose trio of Stuart Dodington, Zeederberg and Aiden Burnett while Ernest Mudzengere will partner Benjamin Meredith in the half-back pairing.
The duo of Jordan Zietsman and Shingirai Katsvere retain their places in midfield while Peterhouse College utility back Martin Mangongo, the son of former Zimbabwe cricket coach Steve, makes his first start of the tournament at fullback.
Zimbabwe lost 54-41 to Eastern Province Country Districts in Middelburg last year in a match they got off to a slow start before coming back strongly in the latter stages.
Zimbabwe Under-18: 15. Martin Mangongo, 14. Russell Dinha, 13. Shingirai Katsvere, 12. Jordan Zietsman, 11. Tinotenda Vheriwa, 10. Benjamin Meredith, 9. Ernest Mudzengere, 8. Aiden Burnett, 7. Cuan Zeederberg, 6. Stuart Dodington, 5. Tinashe Muchena 4. Kevin Chisango, 3. Cleopas Kundiona, 2. Tinotenda Masasanure, 1 Kenny Liam
Replacements: Akim Sibanda, Brian Muntanga, Samuel Garnett, Levi Fargnoli, Sam Phiri, Tarisai Mapfumo, Campbell Nyakudya