HARARE – Harare Sports Club will provide a thrilling stage for the National Rugby League (NRL) final on Saturday as the host battle for supremacy with Matabeleland Warriors for the right to be called champions of Zimbabwean rugby.
Matabeleland Warriors, formally called Busters, had a roller coaster season and achieved a milestone by reaching their second final in the history of the modern national rugby championship.
The Bulawayo giants are now hoping to become the first club from the country’s second-largest city to be crowned Zimbabwean rugby champions since local rivals Old Miltonians ruled the roost in 2003.
To reach Saturday’s final, Warriors edged defending champions and favourites Old Georgians 18-17 in the semifinals three weeks ago to complete a clean sweep over Harare teams at their Hartsfield Stadium fortress this season.
So Saturday’s epic final in the capital presents a wonderful opportunity for the team coached by former Sables second row Reuben Kumpasa to cap off a fairy-tale season.
But in Harare Sports Club, Matabeleland face formidable odds.
Sportivo have been in rampant form this year, putting away almost every team in their path. They have suffered just one defeat, ironically to their opponents on Saturday, Warriors.
The Harare giants’ good run this season can be attributed to the depth in their squad.
Blessing Chiutare’s men have hardly felt the effects of the departure of such senior players as former captain Shingi Mpofu and lively wing Gerald Sibanda, who are now plying their trade in the Scottish Premiership.
HSC will head into this weekend hoping for a change of fortune and finally end their NRL trophy drought. They have failed to clear the final hurdle for the past three years. – Brian Matamba