Lightweight Sables must ‘beef up’

Sables coach Brendan Dawson is impressed with the team’s performance in the tri-national with hosts Namibia and Kenya, but wants his side to beef up ahead of next year’s important World Cup finals qualifiers.

By Kevin Mapasure

Zimbabwe will play Namibia, Kenya and hosts Madagascar in April next year for the Africa Cup, but more importantly for a place at England 2015.

The national 15s side played Namibia on Friday and lost 35-26 before they showed their class by upstaging reigning African champions Kenya 29-14 on Tuesday.

While there might be concern about the Sables’ ability to upstage Namibia who have emerged as the biggest rivals for the automatic berth at the global showcase, Dawson said his team is on the right track and remains confident the dream will be realised.

“I think we are more confidentof beating Madagascar next year”, said Dawson. “We played very well in both matches, we were impressive in the first half against Namibia but they came back strongly in the second and it was very tough. We will need to improve on our fitness and strength. That’s something we are going to work on and there is a lot of time to do that between now and the qualifiers.”

He said Namibia dominated the second half because they were better prepared than Zimbabwe.

“We were together as a unit for just about eight days and that’s not enough; Namibia has played eight games together so they have gelled.

“We have a lot of matches lined up ahead of the qualifiers. So far three have been confirmed but the number could rise to five or six. By the time we play the qualifiers we will have polished all areas, we will be fitter and sharper.”

Dawson added that he was impressed with the way both the locally-based and foreign-based new comers stepped up.

“We had new players who were impressive, so were the locally-based guys who played brilliant rugby. We had a score to settle against Kenya after our defeat to them in the Africa Cup and we ran over them. We played very well in both halves. We scored 26 points in the first half and defended well in the second half. We could have beaten them by a wider margin. We threw away at least six tries but in the end the result was impressive.”

Fullback Tangai Nemadire scored two tries in the match against Kenya while flyhalf Lenience Tambwera scored 19 points through one try, four penalties and one conversion.

Andrew Rose, who has made a comeback to play for Zimbabwe, captained the side against Kenya after captain Danny Hondo and vice-captain Jaques Leitao were both ruled out through injury.

Dawson said the door was not closed on other players and they will continue to consider players who were not part of the tri-nation, but they will also prioritise continuity.

“We are happy with what we have. We will continue looking at other players but the current squad needs to beef up so that we increase size.

“If we qualify we will play against New Zealand, so we need to start preparing for that now.”

Zimbabwe was outmuscled by Namibia in the scrums and the technical team is looking to correct that ahead of Madagascar.