It's all or nothing

HARARE - It will be joy or despair as Zimbabwe face Russia this afternoon in a match they must win to keep their World Cup dream alive.

Brendan Dawson’s men are undeniably up against the odds in the rugby-mad Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk where they will content with a partisan 25 000 home crowd at the Central Stadium.

Playing against a team that is ranked seven places above them on the International Rugby Board, the Sables cannot afford to give anything away in terms of making elementary mistakes.

The breakdown and scrum time is a potential danger for the Sables as the Russians are famed for their strong pack of forwards.

But with strong fetchers and monsters at the breakdown in the form of flankers Jacques Leitao and Graeme Lawler at their disposal, the Sables will not be fazed.

At the line-out, Old Georgians hooker Keith Murray, who is likely to get the nod ahead of club mate Matthew Mandioma, has no room for error.

In the loose trio, seasoned flank Leitao will are undoubtedly be giving it everything he has.

Leitao will partner eighthman Lambert Groenewald, who is a proven strong ball carrier and was Zimbabwe’s stand out performers in Madagascar.

Flank Lawler is another line-out option.

A lot will be expected from Guy Cronje who will start in the number 10 jersey partnering the fast improving Hilton Mudariki at half-back.

Cronje had a good conversion ratio during the Africa Cup in Madagascar and the Golden Lions man will be hoping to maintain that form today.

Inside centre Riaan O’Neill has really come out of his shell and overshadowed Daniel Hondo the last time out.

O’Neill will be another game change for Zimbabwe in midfield.

Whichever way the Sable will line up, one thing is certain, each player needs to punch above his weight to keep the team’s dream of grabbing the 20th and final spot at next year’s Rugby World Cup alive.

And one man who wants Zimbabwe to qualify and make it three Southern Africa countries at the World Cup is Namibia captain Jacques Burger.

Burger was one of many that rallied the Sables on his Twitter accounts.

“All the best to @zimbabwerugby playing against Russia in the last #RWC2015 qualifiers this weekend. #Africa.”

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