By Enock Muchinjo
THE curtain comes down on the national rugby league tomorrow as shock finalists University stand between defending champions Old Hararians (OH) and a fourth consecutive championship win.
University surprised all and sundry when they sensationally overturned a first-half deficit to hand highly fancied Mashonaland Country Districts (MCD) their first defeat of the season in the semi-final last weekend.
University coach Cyprian Mandenge, who could have been top-contender for the coach of the year accolade had the awards not been scrapped for lack of sponsorship, is credited for the team’s success. He transformed the team from being one of the league’s whipping boys to a formidable outfit.
At the beginning of the season the University mentor managed to convince some of his key players not to leave for bigger clubs and also brought impressive flank Derek Chiwara from Old Hararians.
Players such as fullback John Marira and lock Nyasha Nenhunzi were also outstanding during the season in which they finished fourth after the round-robin league matches, and will be expecting to help their side provide stiff challenge to OH tomorrow.
After beating rivals Harare Sports Club 18-11 in the other semi-final last Saturday, there was jubilation in the OH camp on learning of the MCD defeat at Old Georgians. OH are confident of a less gruelling battle in the final against University than the farmers would have put up.
OH have the ability and heart to introduce a one-off rugby lesson to the students’ curriculum but they will have to respect University’s combativeness and self-belief stimulated by their win over MCD.