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ZIMBABWE Under-17 side’s hopes of finishing the Grant Khomo Rugby Festival unbeaten went up in smoke yesterday when they suffered a 22-32 defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Namibia in Pretoria, South Africa.

Zimbabwe had won their first two games, a 15-13 victory over Griquas and an 11-10 win against Griquas Country Districts, but it was against Namibia that they faltered but they managed a top six finish tied with the Free State, Blue Bulls and Eastern Province on nine points.

The Zimbabwe Rugby Union this year had set a target that all teams should make sure they overpower Namibia in their respective games, but the Under-17 became the second side to fall against their bitter rivals.

Flagship side, the Sables, were the first to lose against Namibia this year following a 20-24 defeat in Madagascar during the World Cup qualifier tournament that also doubled up as the Africa Cup last week.

The Under-13 side put up a brave show until the end, resulting in them drawing 24-24 against Namibia in the Craven Week Under-13 festival in Durban last weekend.

However, yesterday Namibia registered their second win of the year against Zimbabwe and by half-time they were leading 19-7 courtesy of three tries and two conversions while Zimbabwe had managed one converted touchdown.

Zimbabwe got their points through tries by Brighton Chinyanya, Matthew McNab, Tinashe Chaza and Travis Landing who also added one conversion.

Namibia scored through tries by Andre van der Berg and Gerweino Benade, who scored a brace each, and Jano Rieckert.

Conversions came from Chad Plato and Delron Brandt (two) while Plato also scored a penalty. Next up in South Africa is the Zimbabwe Under-18 side who will be taking part in the annual Craven Week festival and coach Godwin “Jaws” Murambiwa knows the task that lies ahead.

“Obviously, it is going to be a very difficult task for us, taking on Eastern Province Country Districts in our opening match and we also have to beat Namibia in the final game.”

Source : The Herald