Sables brace for Namibia

BULAWAYO - Sables captain Denford Mutamangira is hopeful his side will register their first win in the 2018 Rugby Afrique Gold Cup when they take on Namibia at Hartsfield Stadium here this afternoon.

Kick-off is at 3.30pm.

Zimbabwe are winless in their previous three outings after drawing 23-23 with Morocco in Harare in June before going down 45-36 to Kenya in Nairobi later that month.

Last month, Peter de Villiers’ side lost 18-14 to Tunisia in Monastir to leave their hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in tatters.

Only the top team which wins the 2018 Gold Cup will join South Africa as the continent’s two representatives in Japan next year.

The Sables are now in danger of even being relegated to the second tier Silver Cup as they are currently in fourth place on the six-team log standings with three points.

This afternoon, Zimbabwe come up against a fired-up Namibia that has won all their three matches to sit top of the group with 15 points.

The Welwitschias have been ruthless as they beat Uganda (55-6), Tunisia (118-0) and Morocco (63-7) on their march towards a sixth consecutive Rugby World Cup appearance.

However, Mutamangira said his charges are not fazed by facing such an in-form team like Namibia.

“Obviously, we always knew that this was going to be the biggest game for us in the tournament and we are up for it, we are not going to hold anything back and we will take the game to them,” the Sables prop forward said.

“We have been talking as a team and the guys know that everything is going to change tomorrow (today); this is the game that is going to turn around our campaign.

“How we perform tomorrow is going to determine where we are and where we stand as the Sables in 2018 so we are really looking forward to the game.

“We know it’s going to be physical, they (Namibia) always play a structured game but we always rise to the occasion when we play against structured teams.”

The Harare Sports Club loosehead dismissed the notion that the Sables side only turns up against Namibia while being complacent against the lesser teams in the division.

“I wouldn’t really say we reserve anything for Namibia but it’s just like any derby games; if Manchester United play Chelsea or if Barcelona take on Real Madrid, the hype of the game is just high that even the players are already motivated,” Mutamangira said.

“Not taking away anything from the previous games we have played, but this is Namibia and people are always switched on. We are actually going to take the game to them.”

Sables’ backline player Shayne Makombe, who has been drafted in to play on the wing today instead of his preferred position at centre, is also looking forward to taking on the Welwitschias in his first Test in four years.

“It’s a really a good opportunity for us to redeem ourselves, I think we have really let slip some good chances in the tournament already,” he said.

“We missed out on a couple of wins and drew one match and I think it’s going to be really nice playing at Hartsfield, the home of rugby, in front of our home crowds and I think we have really prepared well for this game.”

Makombe together with flank Connor Pritchard and scrumhalf Hilton Mudariki were drafted into the squad after returning from the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco, United States with the Zambezi Cheetahs last week.

“The one thing I can take from San Francisco is that, when you do get opportunities, you really need to take them,” he said.

“You would have seen in the match against Wales, we let a lead slip and that really set the tone for us in the rest of the tournament. I’m just hoping that tomorrow, we will take our chances and finish off Namibia when we have to.”

Zimbabwe XV: 15. Shingirayi Katsvere, 14. Shayne Makombe, 13. Kudzai Mashawi, 12. Tafadzwa, Mhende, 11. Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, 10. Brandon Mandivenga, 9. Hilton Mudariki, 8. Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, 7, Connor Pritchard, 6. Takudzwa Mandiwanza, 5. Fortunate Chipendu, 4. Brian Nyaude, 3. Farai Mudariki, 2. David Makanda, 1. Denford Mutamangira

Replacements: 16. Mathew Mandioma, 17. Irvine Nduwa, 18. Lawrence Cleminson, 19. Antipas Kamkwindo, 20. Lucky Sithole, 21. Ernest Mudzengere, 22. Matthew McNab.

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