HARARE – Old HARARIANS utility forward Costa Dinha has hailed the Old Boys’ team spirit after defeating Old Georgians in Saturday’s Lion Lager National Rugby League (NRL) final.
The Old Boys put on a resurgent second half performance to edge Old Georgians 29-27 and land their first NRL title in eight years.
Dinha was part of that 2005 OH squad that had last won the NRL title under coach John Falkenburg, who is now the Zimbabwe Rugby Union president.
The utility forward, who returned to the country back in 2011 from a playing stint in Germany, said OH’s victory was down to heart and resilience.
“It’s a rebuilding process, it’s been a three seasons of acclimatising and I m happy today we have been crowned champions,” said Dinha.
“It’s been down to heart. It’s been about personal sacrifice guys chipping in with $5, $2. It’s been about the love of the game.”
On Saturday, OGs had looked on course for a comfortable victory after clinching a first half lead of 24-9.
At that stage it seemed the Old Boys were starring another season of under achievement.
But the Old Boys would literary go on to pull the game out of the fire with a second half performance that the side and their fans will remember for a long time to come.
It was perhaps the introduction of centre Takudzwa Chieza and wing Gardner Nechironga that ignited the comeback.
Chieza linked up well with former Prince Edward School teammate Maclean Muhambi to orchestrate the Old Boys comeback.
The hosts went on to add 20 points in the second half in contrast to OGs three points.
OH’s last try from Nechironga put the game to bed.
Old Boys fly half Tichafara Makwanya also stepped up with a captain’s performance in the middle of the park adding 19 points to carry his side over the line.
“It hasn’t really sunk in (that we are NRL champions), I think that it is going to take some time,” Makwanya told reporters after the match.
“It’s been a long time that we have won. We have some of the best talent in the country but that did not show in the first half. And at half time we just looked at ourselves and said this doesn’t reflect the talent we have.”
Makwanya added: “Many times we struggle to travel, travelling to and fro a rugby match on the same day and that needs to be addressed.”
Old Georgians player coach Grant Mitchell said it was a game of two halves and unfortunately for them OH enjoyed the best second half.
“We controlled the first half but in the second half we allowed them to have the ball and we knew we would be in trouble because they can run the ball well,” he said.
“It was all about trusting in our systems unfortunately in the end our work rate was not good enough.”