Zimbabwe’s Young Sables Sink Griquas In Craven Week Opener

Captain Daniel Moolman led his troops – The Zimabwe Young Sables – to a convincing 35-17 victory over Griquasland West in the under 18 Craven Week opener played this morning at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa.

Visibility was not very great due to the mist that was covering Polokwane in the early hours of the day and both teams struggled under

Misty morning in Polokwane during day 1 of the under 18 Craven Week.
Misty morning in Polokwane during day 1 of the under 18 Craven Week.

the high ball. Brendon Mandivenga’s boot got Zimbabwe’s score account ticking, from a penalty in the fourth minute of the encounter. Another infringement at the breakdown saw Mandivenga standing over another penalty just inside Zimbabwe’s 10-metre line and he struck it well to increase Zimbabwe’s lead to 6-0.

Skipper Daniel Moolman and his pack of forwards commanded the breakdown and bossed the scrums winning a lot of turn-over ball as well as scrums against the head. An attempt for posts from the halfway line was pulled wide by Zimbabwe but turned out to be a great decision as Griquas took a 22 drop-out, returning possession to Zimbabwe.

The tourists turned up the heat with a try in the corner through speedster Jabulani Mutukwa. Mutukwa’s try came off a well worked set-piece. Eighth-man Ivan Bawden picked up at the base of the scrum to initiate an 8-9-10-12 movement and at the end of it was Mutukwa going over for Zimbabwe’s first try which was converted by fullback Mandivenga. Zimbabwe led 13-3 going into the half-time break.

A high, hanging kick-off by the fullback allowed Zimbabwe to start the game with an upper hand as all the forwards advanced forward to collect their own kick and set up Munyaradzi Mashaya for Zimbabwe’s second try and Mandivenga’s boot extended the lead to 15-3. Zimbabwe cushioned themselves with another Mandivenga penalty in the 46th minute before he went over the chalk for Zimbabwe’s third try two minutes later. With the conversion true Zimbabwe lead  30-3 with 16 minutes left to play in the encounter.

The Zimbos were dealt a huge blow when Ivan Bawden was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul committed in a bid to protect his try-line. Griquas capitalised on their one-man advantage scoring their first try only a minute after Bawden had been sent off, through Dimitrio Tieties. A minute before Bawden came back on from the sin bin, Gideon Bruwer went over the white wash for Griquas’s second try bringing the score to 30-17.

The words of retired NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – “One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team. ” –  rang true as Zimbabwe seemed to play with renewed strength and kept their try-line unbreached after the reintroduction of  Bawden. Mutukwa ran in Zimbabwe’s last try of the day increasing Zimbabwe’s tally to 35 with only four minutes left to play. The try came off a neatly executed movement that saw the ball switch hands from Rukudzo Gona to Mandivenga before being shipped out wide to Mutukwa with Mashaya playing the decoy runner.

Man of the match, Brendon Mandivenga of Zimbabwe during day 1 of the under 18 Craven Week.
Man of the match, Brendon Mandivenga of Zimbabwe during day 1 of the under 18 Craven Week.

Mandivenga was named the Coca-Cola man of the match for a superb display of rugby but being the sportsman he is, he attributed the excellent results to Zimbabwe’s forwards. “Our forwards set up a good attacking platform for us, they gave us space to play.” On nailing his first half penalties under unfavourable weather conditions that had visibility as low as 50 metres, Mandivenga  said the key was to focus on the ball and not focus on the oncoming runners under the high ball.

Zimbabwe’s head coach, Godwin “Jaws” Murambiwa was ecstatic after the match and could not contain his wide smile but acknowledged that the next game will be tougher. “There is a lot of work to be done, a win means we will play a quicker and better team so we would want to carry on defending well like we did today,” said Murambiwa after the match.

Zimbabwe is not certain of their next match as the seeding will be determined by all of today’s results. The fixtures update will be available on frontrowzim.com as soon as they are made public.


Griqualand West: 15 Ryan de Wee, 14 Leon Becker, 13 Dimitrio Tieties, 12 Luke Mason, 11 Kat Mabaleng, 10 Wentzel Matthys, 9 Saint-Art Pergoa, 8 Jacques van Zyl, 7 Nardus Bosman, 6 BJ Muller, 5 Nico Graaff, 4 Thulani Njenje, 3 Doctor Booysen, 2 Daniel van Zyl, 1 Obakeng Phollholo.
Replacements: 16 Willie van Aswegen, 17 Francois Jacobs, 18 Bradley Leijdekkers, 19 Gerhard Holtzhausen, 20 GM Bruwer, 21 Aldro Heyns, 22 Jacques Nel.

Zimbabwe: 15. Brendon Mandivenga 14. Brandon Boshi 13. Thomas Chadwick 12. Munyaradzi Mashaya 11. Jabulani Mutukwa 10. Rukudzo Gona 9. Tinashe Gwisai 7. Nicholas Burnett 5. Philangezwi Mudambanuki 7. Daniel Moolman (C) 6. Ivan Bawden4. Tafadzwa Kufazvinei 3. Tapiwa Muringani 2. Alexander Zwart 1. Thabani Mujeni.
Replacements: 16. Stephen Bhasera 17. Edo Chikwezvero 18. Glynne Rorke 8. Tinashe Gonese 20. Andrew Dollar 21. Justin Zietsman, 22. Tawanda  Ngosi

Image credits: Luke Walker/Gallo Images

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