The Old Mutual Zimbabwe Under -18 rugby team got their 2018 Coca-cola Academy Week campaign off to a winning start with a nervy win over the South African Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) side at Paarl Boys High yesterday.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN PAARL, WESTERN CAPE
Playing in the second tier tournament for the first time after being relegated from the top tier Craven Week tournament the Old Mutual Junior Sables were under pressure to win their first match against weaker opposition.
And in the end they just managed to get over the line in a match they could have won by a wider margin had they been more clinical.
The Old Mutual Junior Sables outscored SA LSEN by five tries to four in what should be a confidence boosting win against tougher opposition in their last two matches.
Zimbabwe were on the backfoot early as SA LSEN converted an early penalty through flyhalf Chezlin Oosthuizen before flank Theunus Botha dived in the corner for the match’s opening try which Chezlin converted.
Zimbabwe hit back with a converted try in the 13th minute by hooker Declan Ralphs after a well excecuted maul before another five-pointer by captain Matthew Oworu.
The two sides exchanged tries with SA LSEN taking the lead at the half hour mark after prop Jared Kleynhnas made a powerful run before diving in the corner before Junior Sables winger Mufaro Chareka’s try just before the break.
Zimbabwe had opportunities to finish off the match as a contest soon after the break but only managed a solitary try through flank David Bore which Hombiro converted.
They almost made to pay as SA LSEN hit back with two unanswered tries from Kevin Ngwenya and scrumhalf Rennier Boshoff to lead 27-24 late in the game.
Crucially for coach Scott Gray, his charges still had enough in the tank towards the end as a try by prop Brendon Sibanda with four minutes left on the clock was enough to secure the Old Mutual Junior Sables a 27-29 win.