ZIMBABWE’S Under-16 rugby team finally tasted defeat at the annual Under-16 Grant Khomo Week festival in South Africa after going down 22-34 to rivals Namibia in their last match in Pretoria yesterday.
Despite the defeat to old foes Namibia, Old Mutual Young Sables finished a respectable eighth out of 21 teams from around South Africa on the final log standings.
The national Under-17 side which is being coached by Doug Trivella and assistant Sebastian Garikai went into yesterday’s encounter unbeaten after registering hard fought wins in their first match.
They overpowered Griquas 15-13 in their opening match on Monday before edging Griquas Country Districts 11-10 on Tuesday, a result that momentarily lifted the Zimbabwe youth side to number three on standings.
However, yesterday’s defeat saw them settling for eighth position on nine points, five points adrift of giants Western Province, who finished top of the log.
Against the Namibians yesterday, the Old Mutual Young Sables never recovered from a slow start which saw them trailing their opponents 7–19.
Centre Matthew McNab scored the only try for Zimbabwe in the first half which was converted by Travis Landing while the Namibians crossed the whitewash three times through André van der Berg Gerweino Benade and Jano Rieckert.
Zimbabwe added a further three tries in the second half through flank Brighton Chinyanya, Tinashe Chaza and Landing, but a try each by Van der Berg and Benade in the second half dashed any hopes of a comeback.
Meanwhile, following the conclusion of the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week festival, focus will now shift to the national Under-18 side.
The Brighton Murambiwa-coached side will feature at next week’s Coca-Cola Under-18 Craven Week in Middelburg, South Africa.
Zimbabwe will play Eastern Province Country Districts in their first match of the tournament at Middelburg THS on Monday.