Sables go for broke

KAMPALA - With their Rugby Afrique Gold Cup status at stake, Zimbabwe captain Denford Mutamangira has called upon his teammates to prove their worth in today’s crucial clash against Uganda.

The Sables need nothing short of a win this afternoon at the Kyadondo Rugby Grounds in the heart of Kampala in order to avoid the chop from Africa’s top tier rugby competition.

Kick-off is 2pm Zimbabwean time.

A loss today coupled with Morocco getting anything from their match against Tunisia in Monastir, will see Zimbabwe drop out of the prestigious Gold Cup to the second tier Silver Cup.

Zimbabwe is in fifth place in the six-team division with only three points and are only ahead of bottom side Morocco on points scored difference. 

For a country with a rich rugby tradition and two Rugby World Cup appearances, this will be a total disaster.

After failing to register a single win in their previous four matches, today’s match against Uganda is now of huge significance for the Sables.

Mutamangira and his men are in a sink or swim territory.

“I have been personally emphasising to the lads that this is our last game this campaign. We need to put everything on the line in tomorrow’s (today) 80 minutes,” Mutamangira said shortly before yesterday’s captain run at the match venue.

“Let’s be physical as we can; let’s put our bodies on the line. I have even told the guys that if every individual makes four tackles that’s four tackles multiplied by 23 which is 92 tackles in the game. It’s going to take a team effort and if one person can make two carries; that’s like 46 carries in a game and these are the things that win you games.

“My challenge to the guys has been for us to work as a team and also let’s have competition amongst ourselves; each player must be determined to make more tackles than his opposite number on the Ugandan team.”

After a determined performance against Namibia at Hartsfield Stadium in Bulawayo two weeks ago, coach Peter de Villiers has made a number of forced changes to his starting XV for today’s match.

There are two changes in the front row where Matthew Mandioma starts at hooker in place of David Makanda while Lawrence Cleminson replaces the unavailable Farai Mudariki at tighthead.

In the second row, the Germany-based Antipas Kamkwindo will play in his third Test for Zimbabwe in a lock pairing with the veteran Fortune Chipendu.

Brian Nyaude, who played lock against Namibia, replaces Takudzwa Mandiwanza and will start at blindside in the loose trio that also has Connor Pritchard on the openside and Tapfuma Parirenyatwa at the back of the scrum.

There is also a new halfback pairing of scrumhalf Enerst Mudzengerere and flyhalf Lenience Tambwera.

After starting at flyhalf against Namibia, Brandon Mandivenga reverts back to inside centre where he replaces the injured Kudzai Mashawi.

Mandivenga will form a midfield combination with the evergreen Tafadzwa Mhende, who had a blinder against Namibia.

The back three remains unchanged with Shingi Katsvere at full back while Shayne Makombe and Tafadzwa Chitokwindo are on the wings.

“The great thing about this campaign is that we have had about three months of working together. This whole week, we haven’t had to emphasise being on the field and doing the same things we have been doing over and over again,” de Villiers said.

“This has been a plus for us and it allowed me the freedom to go over the one thing that I think we were lacking; it’s our mental preparation. If you look at the experience we have, coming from a culture where rugby is the number one sport, I thought their psychological aspect was where they can stand up for themselves.

“But we missed it there, we had to work a lot hard on their heads this week so mental strength is not something you work in two or three games; there’s always pressure, from yourself, your family, pressure from the nation and we allowed the other pressure from the scoreboard be against us as well.”

The only concern for de Villiers is the hard surface at the Kyadondo Rugby Grounds which saw Mashawi aggravate his quad muscle problem in training on Thursday ruling him out of today’s game. 

Zimbabwe starting XV: 15. Shingi Katsvere, 14. Shayne Makombe, 13. Tafadzwa Mhende, 12. Brandon Mandivenga, 11. Tafadzwa Chitokwindo, 10. Lenience Tambwera, Enerst Mudzengerere, 8. Tapfuma Parirenyatwa, 7. Connor Pritchard, 6. Brian Nyaude, 5. Fortunate Chipendu, 4. Antipas Kamupindo, 3. Lawrence Cleminson, 2. Matthew Mandioma, 1. Denford Mutamangira
Replacements: 16. David Makanda, 17. Cleopas Kundiona, 18. Irvin Nduwa, 19. Kudakwashe Nyakufaringwa, 20. Takudzwa Mandiwanza, 21. Jeremiah Jaravaza, 22. Takudzwa Kumadiro, 23. Matthew McNab.

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