Zim lose Craven Week opener

STELLENBOSCH - The Old Mutual Zimbabwe Under-18 side fought bravely and even led at the break here yesterday but capitulated in the end — falling to a heartbreaking 17-12 loss to Griquas Country Districts.

Griquas CD dominated line outs and at scrum time, posing a constant danger at set-pieces.

But what the Junior Sables lacked in weight of their forwards they made up by being immense at the breakdown where eighth-man Aiden Burnett was colossal.

Zimbabwe’s backline was a marvel every time they had ball in hand and should have opened their account early on but fullback Tarisai Mapfumo spilled with the try line a few inches away.

The Junior Sables would, however, get onto the score board through flyhalf Benjamin Meredith, who was amongst the country’s outstanding performers in this hilly region home to over 140 wine farms.

From that try, the Falcon College number 10 dusted himself up to slot over the conversion and take Zimbabwe to the breather leading 7-0.

The Northern Cape-based side went on to mount a period of sustained pressure early in the second half.

With the wet and cool conditions presented by this Western Cape provincial town Zimbabwe finally cracked as hooker Dolf Zandberg dived over the white wash for an unconverted try.

Zimbabwe were soon back on the front foot, Meredith the provider kicking a cross field pass to find St George’s College student Mapfumo, who picked up and dived over for an unconverted try, leaving the score delicately poised at 12-5.

That would be the last of Zimbabwe’s resistance as Griquas CD who never dropped their heads continued to use their superior pack to bulldoze the Junior Sables defence.

Loose forward Dain Du Toit soon dived over to level matters before left flanker Dian Dry played advantage Brian Muntanga’s knock on, running the length of half the pitch to score the winning try.

In the end, Zimbabwe made an estimated 140 tackles in comparison to Griquas CD 60 highlighting the intensity of the game for the visitors who had right lock Tinashe Muchena make some big hits.

“Having led in the beginning like that and then lose in the end. It’s pretty disappointing,” said Meredith.

“It was pretty muddy out there and the ball was quite slippery but we defended well. We just lost our way in the end.”

Zimbabwe coach Godwin Murambiwa felt his side lacked composure and concentration at the end.

“It was like watching a bad movie remember at the last Craven Week, Griquas beat us after they had dominated the first half and we dominated the second but it wasn’t enough,” he said.

“This time we lost concentration. Fortunately, we have two more games to play and we should concentrate and seeing off those games.”

Zimbabwe: 15.Tarisai Mapfumo, 14.Sam Phiri, 13.Jordan Zietsman, 12.Shingirayi Mapfumo 11.Tinotenda Vheriwa, 10. Benjamin Meredith, 9.Campbell Nyakudya, 8.Aiden Burnett, 7.Cuan Zeederberg, 6.Stuart Dodington, 5.Tinashe Muchena, 4.Levi Farnoli, 3.Samuel Garnett, 2.Brian Muntanga (c) 1.Akim Sibanda.

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