The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Young Sables Under Pressure

Kimberley — THE Zimbabwe Under-18 rugby side is under pressure to perform this morning, when they take on bitter rivals Namibia, in their final game of the Coca-Cola Craven Week rugby festival at the Diamond Fields High School.

The Young Sables had a training session at Northern Cape High yesterday morning before manager Tungamirai Mashungu named the starting XV that is dominated by players who featured in the first game on Tuesday.

All week long, the Young Sables have been playing at the GWK Park Rugby Stadium, but with all teams expected to play today, coupled with their poor performance on Thursday, the Young Sables have been moved to Diamond Fields school for today's international.

Zimbabwe put up one of their worst performances at the annual event after they fell 81-7 at the hands of Limpopo Blue Bulls on Thursday morning,

The Young Sables literary had no solution to the Limpopo attack and were found wanting on several occasions as they failed to display any defence skills, team spirit and were not good enough to match the Limpopo pace.

Limpopo dominated in every department of the game, their passing was perfect, they ball spread out wide and the forwards did their job at the rucks, mauls and line-outs leaving Zimbabwe in a sorry state.

The Young Sables defence was virtually non-existent and Limpopo took this advantage to run into the big gaps that were created in the Zimbabwe guard and with a lot of power and precision, Limpopo were just unstoppable.

But Zimbabwe face a different challenge this morning when they take on Namibia in what has become a traditional international at the junior rugby showcase.

Like Zimbabwe, Namibia have been blowing hot and cold at the festival.

First they won their opening game with a convincing 40-19 win over the Leopards but their second display was really poor as they went on to suffer an embarrassing 53-3 loss to host province Griquas.

This was the same case with Zimbabwe who put their best foot forward on Tuesday with a record 68-3 thrashing of Border Country Districts but the Garath Meikle captained side were a disaster in their Thursday game.

Zimbabwe will be missing the services of three key players due to injury - the first choice centre pairing of Kyle College's Takudzwa Chieza and St Johns' Preston Bryant and Samson Musiyarira, who will have to watch from the terraces.

"Of course, that has an effect on us and we are obviously starting on the backfoot because our center combination is out.

"But we hope Meikle, who has gone back to number 12 though he hasn't played much of it this year, will step up.

"We also believe that the flank combination of Daniel Rorke and Tapiwa Tsomondo will be able to come through and that is why we had to play them half the game on Thursday against the Limpopo Blue Bulls because we wanted to give them enough rest.

"Robert Sargeant will have to come to scrumhalf, he has proved a revelation in that position as big as he is and, combined with Luke Masasire back in flyhalf, I hope we will have a much better game," said coach Godwin "Jaws" Murambiwa.

Tsomondo and Rorke were a bug problem to the Border CD defence as they scored five tries between them while Masasire chipped in with 23 points off his boot.

Murambiwa believes his previous encounters against Namibia will come in handy this morning as he has not lost against them in more than four years thought most of the games have been decided by a try.

"I guess my experience with Namibia as a coach will play a huge role because over the past four years we have beaten them (at both the Under-18 and Under-19 level) and our biggest win was in Kenya in 2009.

"We have been dominating them and the statistics are in our favour and we also have three players in the side who beat Namibia last year at the Craven Week and these are Mathew Lawson, Meilkle and Chieza who will not be playing.

"Also, based on the fact that our players are fighting for the Under-19 jersey and we have qualifiers coming on next week, the players would like to impress selectors.

"But we should not forget that this is happening to both sides as Namibia will also be taking part in the tournament.

"So it is not going to be an easy game and we have to put our best foot forward and it is good because we got most of our players who were not able to play against Limpopo due to the festival regulations," said the former Sables coach.

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