The Sunday Mail
Old Hararians ……………(20) 35
OLD HARARIANS find themselves at a place where noone ever imagined they would be come September 8 – the 2019 Super Six Rugby Champions perch.
Initially deemed unworthy, the former Harare giants had to go through a qualifier and beat Southern City to make the numbers.
All came to a head as OH put up a scintillating performance to beat Old Georgians 35-32 in a final at Old Georgians Sports Club yesterday.
Tries from Tatenda Kasorota, Tatenda Murwira, Ernest Mudzengerere and Malvin Nyakuwedzwa added the icing on the cake. Veteran fly-half and OH Skipper Tichafa Makwanya chipped in with two penalties and three conversions for the champions. OGs got their points through tries by Akim Dick’s brace, Simbarashe Mandioma, Daniel Capsopoulos and Rufaro Chikwaira, while Jeremiah Jaravaza chipped in with two conversions and a penalty. However, despite the pomp and fanfare which characterized OHs’ ascendancy back to the top, the day actually belonged to the duo of coach Cyprian Mandenge and Makwanya. A bible verse, Psalm 118:22, aptly captures their story: “The stone which the builders rejected, has become the chief cornerstone.”
It was easy to forget the duo’s last 24 months as a sea of green and white clad fans ran onto the pitch to hug and shower them with praises after the game.
Makwanya kept his team in the game as OGs appeared to have the game in hand early on.
OGs started the brighter and hungrier side with two tries from Mandioma. Dick and Chikwaira seemed to give their team the early edge.
During the opening 25 minutes of the games, many thought OGs would steamroll past their opponents.
Makwanya, like he has done many times before during the course of his illustrious career, put his faith in his boot and chipped in with two conversions and two penalties.
Trailing 32-20 at the breather, gaffer Mandenge riled up his charges.
They came back a changed side and shut out their opponents for an entire half.
All the while, Mudzengerere and Nyakuwedzwa were planting more tries, with Makwanya converting one and successfully kicking in another penalty.
Mandenge was at a loss for words after the game. However, he shed some light on his halftime pep talk.
“It was a simple matter of picking up the boys morale wise and putting our house in order,” said Mandenge.
“We made too many mistakes during the first half, many of which they punished us for. I told the boys to tighten up their lines, play more rugby in phases and invade their half.
“Fortunately, that was enough and we managed to put up a near perfect second half. Any coach would be happy with that,” he said.
Makwanya said,”We had to earn our place in the league and all credit goes to the boys for putting in the work and giving us this all-important win.”