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Matebele Warriors' hopes shattered

by Ricky Zililo
24 May 2016 at 05:45hrs | Views
BULAWAYO'S Matabeleland Warriors surrendered a narrow 5-3 halftime lead to lose 17-26 to Old Hararians in the semi-final of the Gold Cup qualifiers played at Hartsfield Stadium on Saturday.

Warriors, the top team in the Matabeleland Rugby Football Board (MRFB) were hoping to make it into the final and probably beat Old Georgians of Harare to earn the right to represent Zimbabwe at the South African Rugby Union (SARU) organised Gold Cup to be held later this year.

SARU gave Zimbabwe a major boost, incorporating the latter into the South African system with the country's national champions expected to take part in the Gold Cup tournament that also involves one Namibian team.

The Gold Cup is a rebranded version of the Cell C Community Cup and Zimbabwe's involvement in the South African structures follows last year's visit by SARU project manager for club rugby Duane Heath who was impressed by the quality of the game they witnessed in the Northern Rugby League final between Harare Sports Club and Old Georgians in October.

The package of the Gold Cup participants is such that they will have accommodation and travelling expenses catered for while the teams will have to bear their own preparatory expenses with Zimbabwe assured of at least two home matches for a start.

Following the cancellation of a National League, local clubs have been restricted to playing their regional rivals, with leagues running in the Northern Region (Harare, Mutare, Chitungwiza) and Southern Region (Bulawayo, Gweru, Zvishavane, Masvingo).

Warriors are the undisputed giants in the Southern Region, but having been knocked out of the qualifiers, it will be an all-Harare final next weekend.

MRFB chairman Theo Weale praised the Warriors and believes the Southern Region will be better prepared for next year's qualifiers.

"Warriors played well in the first half and they should have buried the visitors but failed to make use of their chances. The second half was played with more intensity and my analysis is that lack of game fitness showed on Warriors. The boys' performance faded and they conceded easy points," said Weale.

Meanwhile, the Southern Region league action will resume on Saturday.

Source - chronicle