THE final score read 62-19 in favour of the visiting Blue Bulls from South Africa yesterday when they faced an invitational Zimbabwean rugby side, Zambezi Steelers, but coach Peter de Villiers believes there were plenty of positives to take from the exhibition match played at Harare Sports Club.
by Kennedy Nyavaya
“The positive from this game is something we would never have known if we did not play this game. Playing a big opponent (Blue Bulls) worked in our favour and I am looking forward to developing the team going forward,” he said.
De Villiers, who was taking charge of his first match locally since becoming Zimbabwe coach in February, used yesterday’s encounter– dubbed the Old Mutual Legends Cup – to assess some of the players he intends to use during the upcoming 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers starting in June.
“We were together for only three days and others joined much later, so to put all things in place in such a short time while our opponents have been together for months was a bit hard,” explained De Villiers
“Having to prepare a team in such a short space of time is not favourable, but our play was not so bad until I changed the team a bit. I had to see everyone to know what I have.”
De Villiers’ men will, however, need to work harder on their defence line which was a big letdown as they were found wanting most times the opponents’ forwards charged.
The Steelers had to depend on their quick backline and had it not been for wing Ziyanda Khupe’s solitary try and flyhalf Lenience Tambwera’s capable boot, which slotted home a couple of penalties, they would not have responded to the Bulls’ rout.
On the other hand, the SA rugby league side capitalised on the missed tackles and lack of endurance to run riot with their forwards, who seemed unstoppable particularly after the breather.
But, retired Springbok backliner Tonderai Chavhanga, who also featured in the second half, believes the team can overturn the disappointing show to impress if given more time to prepare.
Chavhanga was one of the two high-profile guest players who played for the Zambezi Steelers together with former All Blacks great Rodney So’oialo.
“The scoreboard doesn’t reflect the way the guys played. I think there is a lot of work to be done, but at the same time a lot of positives. We need to focus on our core basics but the great thing is that the guys are playing with so much pride and their best and I have no doubt that if we carry on progressing and give this team a bit of time to gel, we may qualify for the World Cup,” said Chavhanga.