Zimbabwe Goshawks...................(13) 26
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias...(17) 31
THE Zimbabwe Goshawks put on a solid display despite going down to Namibian outfit Windhoek Draught Welwitschias in their opening Mzansi Challenge Cup match at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Playing in their first match of the competition after forfeiting the first three matches due to lack of funds, the youthful Zimbabwean side were not given a chance against the Namibian side which had already played three matches against tough opposition in South Africa.
For long periods in yesterday's encounter, which was watched by an appreciative crowd, the Goshawks matched their much fancied opponents and with a bit of composure they could have upstaged the Namibians.
Namibia made the better start as they crashed over the whitewash from a driving maul in the eighth minute, but Zimbabwe remained within touching distance through two penalties from flyhalf Takudzwa Musingwini slotted.
Zimbabwe had several opportunities to move into the lead as they literally camped in Namibia's half but unfortunately for the home side they were unable to make the most of their opportunity.
Against the run of play, Namibia scored a try, moments before halftime from lock Tjericho Mahepisa just before halftime to lead 14-6.
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Zimbabwe ensured it remained a one point game with Mclean Muhambi showing a clean pair of heels to touch down between the posts after a brilliant inside pass by Musingwini.
Namibia ended the half strongly with a penalty just before halftime to lead 13-17 at the break and resumed the second half the same way they ended the opening stanza with Andre Van Der Berg slotting home another three pointer to take the scoreline to 20 -13 in their favour.
The Zimbabwe Goshawks responded with a penalty of their own from skipper Hilton Mudariki, but appeared to run out of steam afterwards as Namibia pulled away with a try from Van Der Berg to stretch their lead to 25-16.
Zimbabwe had a glorious opportunity to hit back almost immediately but skipper Hilton Mudariki, who had been having a good game knocked the ball on with the tryline in sight before pulling his penalty conversion wide a few moments later.
Mudariki was withdrawn moments earlier and his replacement made an instant impact as his quick distribution for the breakdown led to a try in the corner by replacement prop Patrick Macklin.
However, Namibian maintained their seven point lead with another penalty before stretching to beyond Zimbabwe's reach with another penalty.
Zimbabwe finished the match strongly with a late try but it was a little too late as the Namibians secured a hard-fought 26-31 win.