Zim brace for Namibia pack challenge

HARARE - Namibia stands between Zimbabwe and a fourth straight Under-19 African rugby title when the two sides clash in a potential thriller at Prince Edward School tomorrow.

The winner of the match, the last of Group A action in the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR) Under-19 Championships, automatically qualifies for the 2013 Junior World Rugby Trophy (JWRT), set to be played in Chile next year.

It’s a battle of titans between these two giants of African rugby.

The Young Sables will be looking for their fourth continental title while rivals Namibia are desperate to win this fixture, which they have failed to do for the past three years of Zimbabwean dominance.

Namibia coach, Jood Opperman, believes his charges are better prepared this time around for the Zimbabwean challenge.

“We went all the way in our preparations this year,” Opperman told the Daily News yesterday.

“Last year we did not prepare enough. Last time we travelled here by bus. This year we flew in and arrived early in order to quickly acclimatise. We have even given our players incentives in form of pay cheques.”

The Namibians have been pretty impressive thus far in the tournament, posting two big wins over Tunisia (44-7) and Kenya (33-19).

Their strength has been mainly in the huge pack of forwards, who like to build a string of phases and suck in the opposition’s defence.

The Namibian pack can be a thorn in the flesh when they are on the offence and often make their back-line’s work easy.

Zimbabwe had a slow tournament start but have slowly gathered momentum.

Their most lethal asset is a quick and enterprising backline and a creative flyhalf Luke Masasire, who is good at reading game situations.

The Young Sables also have a mobile pack which is stocked with loose forwards such as Munashe Gwenzi and skipper Josh Smallbones, who have been converted to locks.

The hosts’ pack is efficient at broken play and has forceful players such as Tapiwa Tsomondo, who likes to attack the advantage line a lot.

Zimbabwe, however, will have to be disciplined against the Namibians and should not commit a lot of players at the breakdown when defending to avoid being sucked in, which will create overlaps for the Namibians.

Coach Brighton Chivandire and his technical staff must work out a plan to starve the Namibian forwards of the ball and try to be less physical and use the backs to great effect.


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