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SABLES captain Daniel Hondo says it’s important for his side not to fear Namibia today if they are to win a second straight game and move closer to a place at the 2015 Rugby World Cup next year.

The Sables take on a wounded Namibia in what would be their most crucial game, and easily the biggest tie between the two sides in more than a decade, as they battle for a ticket to England next year.

A win for Zimbabwe will take the Sables closer to a place in England.

Zimbabwe come into this game as log leaders in the competition having so far disciplined Madagascar 57-22 in the opening game in front of their home crowd in Antananarivo. Namibia lost 22-29 to Kenya in a surprise win for the East Africans.

Statistics are in favour of the Namibians, but if the Sables performance against Madagascar last Saturday is anything to go by, then the Zimbabweans should fancy their chances of winning.

The Sables have made two changes to the side that took on Madagascar with hooker Keith Murray making way for Simba Mandioma while Graeme Lawler will be replaced by Njabulo Ndlovu at six.

Hondo believes his charges have to “come out and play” if they are to book their ticket to the World Cup while director of rugby Liam Middleton says the fact that Namibia lost to Kenya will not count in this match.

“Players at the moment are confident and they believe in themselves. The boys have to come out and play, we do not have to fear the opposition if we are to go the World Cup,” said Hondo.

“We just have to follow the set game plan, stick to it and execute it well.”

Zimbabwe and Namibia have met 25 times, the Sables have lost 22 times and won three. The last time Zimbabwe overpowered the Welwitschias was when they won 27-26 in 2001 at Hartsfield in Bulawayo.

However, Zimbabwe have only beaten Namibia away once (in ’96 with a close 15-13 victory) and the biggest they have won a game against their opponents was by six points in ’97 when the Sables won 32-26 in Windhoek.

In the last 10 meetings, Zimbabwe have only won once. But these are just statistics and they speak volumes of the past encounters between the two sides but nothing about the present showdown which has to be decided today. This one will be decided by the team that shows the biggest character, a lot of heart, great determination and a g mental and physical application.

“Namibia are a good team, their loss to Kenya is not an indication of their ability. They are the biggest team in the competition and they have players with Rugby World Cup experience,” said Middleton.

“We will need to be better than we were against Madagascar (if we are) to beat them.

“I have taken the game that we played against them (Namibia) last November, their game against Kenya on Saturday and some notes from scouts who watched their warm-up games and from that devised a game plan that, if executed well, will give us a victory. We have had no warm-up games, unlike Kenya and Namibia, but through good analysis, accurate feedback to players and well-constructed training sessions I can make consistent improvements to the team through the tournament.

“Every win is important in this competition, it’s a winner-take-all scenario.

The bonus point victory was significant and we recorded our (second) biggest win over Madagascar, which should be noted.

“World rankings are far from our minds at the moment, as there is only one real prize in this competition and we remain focused on performing well against Namibia.”

Against Madagascar, Zimbabwe employed much of a forwards’ game dominating on set-pieces, they had very good ball carriers and six of their tries came from the forwards where flanker Jacques Leitao scored four with second half substitute prop Farai Mudariki and eighthman Lambert Groenewald each touching down once.

But today the Sables are expected to change their game plan and try to utilise the backline more given that Namibia have a bigger pack than Zimbabwe while the Sables have a more mobile backline.

“The Namibia forwards are very g, they are much bigger than us,” acknowledged Middleton.

Sables

Forwards: D. Mutamangira, M. Mandioma, K. Nqindi, J. Ferreira, S. Sibanda, N. Ndlovu, J. Leitao, L. Groenewald,

Backs: H. Mudariki, G. Cronje, S. Hunduza, R. O’Neill, D. Hondo, (captain), T. Chitokwindo, T. Nemadire.

Substitutes: K. Murray, P. Joubert, L. Clemenson, G. Lawler, K. Lang, P. DuToit, L. Tambwera, G. Sibanda.

Source : The Herald

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