Zim hope to bounce back

HARARE - Zimbabwe is aiming to pick up the pieces from their heartbreaking opening loss when they take on Eastern Province CD here at Paul Roos Gymnasium this morning.

The Old Mutual-sponsored Under-18 side is yet to taste victory at this age-grade tournament since the class of 2013 won two and lost one match in the Polokwane held Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week.

Since then successive Zimbabwe Under-18 teams have fallen short when it mattered most.

This is despite that those teams have been at the forefront of supplying red hot talent to some of this regions rugby franchises.

Latest among them is now Blue Bulls Under-19 vice captain Eli Snyman, Free State Cheetahs Under-19’s utility forward Daniel Nyamugama and U19 Currie Cup Lions’ tight head prop Stephen Bhasera.

This year’s group is again not short of talent but perhaps because of the limited time players have to bond, the Junior Sables have never really reached their full potential at this tournament.

That sad reality was highlighted on Monday in Zimbabwe’s opening match against Griquas Country Districts in which they agonisingly lost 12-17 having led 7-0 at the break.

Mistakes at crucial moments of the game opened the door for Griquas CD to stage a dramatic comeback, scoring two tries in the dying minutes of the game.

Today, Zimbabwe has a chance to make amends when they face Eastern Province CD in this Western Cape province where morning temperatures have been averaging six degrees.

Eastern Province is also hoping to bounce back to winning ways after starting off with a losing 27-43 to Valke.

Zimbabwe has made seven changes to the side that fell to Griquas Country Districts on Monday.

Lock Tinashe Muchena, blinded-sided flank Cuan Zeederberg and eighthman Aiden Burnett are the only surviving forwards from Monday’s match.

Zeederberg of Peterhouse has been given the captain’s armband in the absence of hooker Brian Muntanga and fullback Tarisai Mapfumo who have been rested.

The changes are not necessarily tactical as it is a requirement for every team to give all their players a run at this developmental tournament.

Starting XV: 15. Martin Mangongo, 14. Sam Phiri, 13. Jordan Zietsman, 12. Shingirayi Mapfumo, 11. Tinotenda Vheiwa, 10. Benjamin Meredith, 9. Ernest Mudzengerere, 8. Aiden Burnett, 7. Cuan Zeederberg, 6. Stuart Dodington, 5. Tinashe Muchena, 4. Kevin Chisanga, 3. Cleopas Kundiona,  2. Tinotenda Msasanure, 15. Kenny Liam.

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