THERE is a good feeling around Old Hararians Rugby that the championship is coming back “where it belongs” after their back-to-back victories over Northern Rugby League (NRL) perennial rivals Harare Sports Club.
They beat them in the league in the first derby two weeks ago, and then won 27-5 in the semi-final last weekend, a year after they relinquished the title to their bitter rivals. It looked like the end of an era then at Old Boys when Sports Club memorably breached their six-year iron-grip on domestic rugby with a flood final win against the Districts.
A year later, OH are having a big say in the destiny of the title again.
But there is perhaps a bigger hurdle than Harare Sports Club in the final at Old Georgians tomorrow; Districts Dragons.
Harare Sports Club diehards argue that their rivals benefited because they lost their rhythm mid-season due to movements in their backline, their forte last year. Star centre Willis Magasa joined the great trek to South Africa, flyhalf Happy Nyatanga’s injury woes continued, and they didn’t enjoy the comfort of fielding South Africa-based backs who played for them on periodical breaks back home last year. So they were always rebuilding.
And when HSC were trying to rebuild, OH capitalised, injecting new blood and blending it with the seasoned campaigners like flanker Max Madziva, former Zimbabwe captain, prop Alfred Sairai, prop/eighthman Rocky Gurumani, flankers Prayer Chitenderu and Basil Dingiswayo, scrumhalf Tich Chidongo and flyhalf Victor Zimbawo.
With the combined experience of such men as Madziva, Chitenderu, Dingiswayo and Gurumani in the back row, it became difficult for a young Sports Club outfit to compete as they were constantly battered into submission at the breakdowns. The veterans even have the pace to carry the ball over the advantage line with gusto.
And now, going into the final, the OH pack, a shift from previous seasons, will be their trump card as opposed to the backline.
They will not have it their way though, because in the Sables contingent of lock Dustin Wilcox, and back rowers Jacques Leitao, Shaun Saywood and Fortune Chipendo, Districts have young forwards who will certainly not feel inferior despite their lesser experience.
Districts will miss the creative talent of flyhalf Danny Robertson, who is with the Zimbabwe Under 19s in Tunisia. They can still be potent in the backline if Manasah Sita, the ex-OH winger who has been in explosive form this season, reserves his best for his former last and against a team he will probably delight in hurting.
By Enock Muchinjo