Percival Sizara in PAARL, South Africa
OLD Mutual Zimbabwe Under-18 rugby team made it back-to-back wins at the Coca Cola Academy Week after thumping Blue Bulls Country Districts 44-19 at Paarl Boys High yesterday. This win provided the team’s message of intent that they are still a competitive side in spite of being in the second-tier Academy Week.
Captain and man-of-the-match, Matthew Oworu, inspired the Junior Sables from the start, breaking the deadlock with a try 13 minutes into the game with Victor Matarise converting.
Winger Pride Gadzikwa put Zimbabwe further ahead with a try before Blue Bulls CD responded with tries from Shayne Bolton and Bronwin Arries while Ethan Wentzel converted the latter’s effort to level scores at 12-all in the 32nd minute. The Junior Sables wanted it more and they would go to half-time leading 15-12 as Matarise scored a penalty. The second half largely belonged to Zimbabwe as Oworu and Gadzikwa recorded their second tries with Mufaro Chareka, Nigel Tinarwo and David Bore getting onto the scoresheet as well.
Matarise and Tinashe Hombiro each made conversions with Blue Bulls CDs only points in the second half coming from Bolton whose try was converted by Wentzel.
Junior Sables coach Scott Gray was elated by the victory and hailed the players for making the hard yards.
“I am very happy for the players, that was a fantastic performance by them, they played some really good rugby.
‘’The defence was very hard hitting, solid, a lot of workrate was put into the defence.
“The guys whom we brought into the team, the impact players, Dylan Utete and Nigel Tinarwo, were absolutely outstanding, they came and lifted the team.
“Kudakwashe Mashonga and Anthony Mundangepfupfu were fantastic and (Mudiwa) Makanza, the small guy running around in the field like that and the big hits that he put in, that was an outstanding effort.
‘’I am very happy for them, they deserve that with all the hard work they have put it.”
The Junior Sables are now looking ahead to ending the Academy Week without tasting defeat.
The last time Zimbabwe were unbeaten at the South African Youth Week was back in 2007 at the Craven Week in Stellenbosch.
Gray, however, realises a good chance for them to restore pride by winning all three games although their last game will be a Youth Test against traditional rivals Namibia this Saturday.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity. Having seen Namibia, we are definitely in with a shout. We play well on the day we can take that win so we are going to give it everything that we have got,” Gray said.