The Victoria Cup is a new tri-nation tournament for Africa involving the Sables, Kenya and Uganda. The Kenyans have already won the tournament after recording three wins over Zimbabwe and Uganda (twice), but pride and world rankings are still at stake.
Thirty-six-year old Zimbabwe prop Rocky Gurumani, the only foreign-based player in the team, will captain the 47th ranked nation in the world.
Kenya are ranked 35th by the IRB.
Clearly, Dawson, a former national team captain and loose forward in his playing days, is trying to use the mixed bag of talent in his pack, which dominated despite Zimbabwe narrowly losing to Kenya 11-10 in Nairobi last month.
There is the physical menace in the tights with Gurumani being partnered in the front row by the dependable Districts enforcer Prayer Chitenderu at hooker, and the steely ex-University of Cape Town star Vakai Hove at loose head.
Twin locks Fortune Chipendo and Zacks Tondoro provide extra impact in the second row.
To complete the forwards pack, the loose trio of eighthman Njabulo Ndlovu and flankers Jacques Leitao and Shingi Mpofu is a mixture of youth, cleaning skills, mobility and deft ball-carrying ability.
The most debatable positions of the squad – at No 10 and fullback – will be represented by Tich Makwanya and Danny Robertson respectively.
While teenager Robertson is a highly rated player, the non-selection of the impressive fullback Tafadzwa Mhende comes as a surprise.
The sensible thing perhaps would have been to relegate Makwanya to the bench, slot Robertson at flyhalf and bring in Mhende, a threat with ball in hand and sniff of gap in front of him who is also comfortable with the up-and-under, at fullback.
However, it must be remembered that Robertson’s kicking was dreadful in Nairobi and probably cost the Sables that match, so Makwanya has been selected chiefly for his kicking abilities.
The midfield consists of the pair of battle-hardened Daniel Hondo and Paul Staak, an efficient engine pairing since their Under- 21 days six years ago.
Scrum-half Scotty Jones and wingers Paul Jessub and Lloyd Machanjaira will round off the backline.
The three uncapped players in the squad all start from the bench. These are locks Witness Mandizha of Old Hararians and Matabeleland Busters’ Jan Ferreira, as well as Harare Sports Club scrumhalf Rangarirai Zimbowa.
The Sables, who also lost their second match of the series to Uganda in Kampala, will be hoping to finish their campaign on a high. Zimbabwe host the Ugandans next weekend in Harare.
15- Danny Robertson, 14- Paul Jessub, 13- Daniel Hondo, 12- Paul Staak, 11- Lloyd Machanjaira 10- Tichafara Makwanya, 9- Scotty Jones, 8- Njabulo Ndlovu, 7- Jacques Leitao 6- Shingi Mpofu, 5- Zacks Tondoro, 4- Fortune Chipendo, 3- Rocky Gurumani (capt), 2- Prayer Chitenderu, 1- Vakai Hove.
16- Brian Makamure, 17- Witness Mandizha, 18- Dimitri Zaverdinos, 19- Tendai Takavarasha, 20- Jan Ferreira, 21- Rangarirai Zimbowa, 22- Bruce Chibesa, 23- Josh Rowe, 24- Tapiwa Mafi, 25- Tafadzwa Mhende.