Junior Sables take on Griquas

STELLENBOSCH - The Old Mutual Zimbabwe Under-18 rugby team is hoping to create their own brand of mature wine when they step into the magnificently built Paul Roos Gymnasium against Griquas Country Districts this afternoon.

Home to over 140 wine farms, Stellenbosch produces some of South Africa’s best red wine - legendary for its ability to age well.

However, this week’s show is not about the winemakers and tasters.

If anything, they have been thrown into the background by some of southern Africa’s top emerging talent that has converged in this hilly region for the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week.

With the Old Mutual Zimbabwe Under-17 having already put up a descent performance here, earning two wins and one loss, the limelight has been cast on the Brian Muntanga-captained Junior Sables.

The Under-18 side has not had encouraging performances at recent Craven Week outings where they have been run over by South Africa’s provincial sides.

But the big driving hooker Muntanga, who is strong around the scrum, is hoping his side will produce a mature performance and emulate Zimbabwe's 2007 performance in which the Junior Sables won everything on offer.

“Last year, I was here and it didn’t go so well but hopefully this year we can change that. It’s my last year in the Under-18 set up so it would be good to end on a high,” he said.

The forward, who weighs 86kg and stands at 1.69 metres, has been a revelation for Falcon College ably earning him the moniker “Beast” amongst his peers.

Along with forwards Akim Sibanda, Stuart Dodington, Levi Fargnoli, Cleopas Kundiona and the backline of Campbell Nyakudya, Benjamin Meredith, Jordan Zietsman and Sam Phiri the Esigodini-based side has been on a rampaging unbeaten campaign.

However, in cool and wet conditions presented by this Western Cape provincial town, school form hardly counts for anything.

“Yeah it’s been quite a season. Hopefully I can carry that through. Just really excited to be here,” Muntanga said.

The Godwin Murambiwa coached are not gifted with a heavy pack of forwards but will rely on flair and pace.

“I think this year we have a stronger side than last year. Our forwards are more skilled and have more pace so hopefully that will work to our advantage,” Muntanga said.

Financial insurance giant Old Mutual are the main sponsors of the junior national side.

Squad: Jordan Zietsman, Stuart Dodington, Sam Phiri, Ackim Sibanda, Levi Fagnoli, Brian Muntanga, Campbell Nyakudya, Benjamin Meridith (Falcon), Kevin Chisango, Sam Barnett, Tarisai Mapfumo, Tinashe Muchena (St George’s), Tinotenda Vheriwa, Cuan Zeederburg (Peterhouse), Aiden Burnett, Cameroon Harrison (St John’s), Liam Kenny, Ernest Mudzengerere, Russell Dhina, Shingi Katsvere (Prince Edward).

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