BY DANIEL NHAKANISO IN CAPE TOWN
FINISHING their debut season in the Currie Cup First Division on a high note will be the sole aim of the Zimbabwe Goshawks when they take to the field to face South African outfit Valke in their final match of the campaign at Wynberg Boys’ High School here today.
It’s been a steep learning curve for the Zimbabwean outfit during their participation in the highly competitive South African second-tier competition, which they are using to prepare for the Rugby World Cup qualifiers to be played in France next month.
During their roller-coaster 10-week tour, the Goshawks have won three matches against Boland Cavaliers, Kenya Simbas and Border Bulldogs while registering five losses against Black Lion, Griffons, Eastern Province Elephants and Leopards SWD Eagles.
In fact, the Goshawks went on a three-week winning streak midway in the campaign, but injuries to key players have led to a difficult run of losses in their last three outings.
The Zimbabwe side will be aiming to proceed to Europe with their tails up by putting on a good show against the Kempton Park-based outfit.
“Valke is a game that we want to make sure we end off on a high note so that we go into the match against the Netherlands with positivity,” Dawson told journalists here yesterday.
“Even if the results don’t go our way, we want to at least play good rugby and according to the patterns and to the structures that we want to play to and make sure that it works.”
The 54-year-old former Zimbabwe captain, who scored a try against Ireland at the 1991 World Cup, was expected to announce his final squad for the Rugby Africa Cup 2022, which doubles as the final round of Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying for teams on the continent.
The Zimbabwe squad will leave for Paris next Friday and play a high-profile preparatory Test match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam on June 25 before returning to France for the Rugby Africa Cup which takes place between July 1-10 in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
Dawson said his focus was already on the continental showpiece, where they face Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals ahead of a potential clash against their rivals Namibia in the semi-finals.
“As I have said before, results are the main priority at this stage (in the Currie Cup), but we want to play proper good quality rugby, the way we want to play against Ivory Coast and Namibia and hopefully go into the final. That is our main aim, to make sure that we play the rugby that we have been practising,” he said.
The former Zimbabwe international said participation in the Currie Cup First Division has given his players an opportunity to lay a foundation for the continental qualifiers.
“We went into this year’s Currie Cup with the principle that we were going to use it as a building process and we weren’t going to be results-driven. It was all about preparing and getting the right squad to go to France (for the Rugby World Cup qualifiers).”
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