HARARE – Old Johannians (OJs) are targeting a strong end to their Harare Rugby League (HRL) season and seal a place at the 2017 Gold Cup.
And in doing so they must start by avenging their semifinal defeat to Harare Sports Club (HSC) in the qualifying tournament for this year’s edition.
OJs lost 33-19 to Sportivo in the semifinal held two weeks ago at Morris Depot.
The two sides meet again tomorrow at Old Georgians Sports Club when the HRL action resumes.
OJs manager Roger Woodward said his charges have had the opportunity to work on some of their shortcomings during the two-week mini-break paving way for the Gold Cup semis and the final.
Log leaders OGs won the final 39-20 against Old Hararians (OH) and will represent Zimbabwe in the South African rugby tournament in September.
“We have been training hard with new tactics and working on our failures from the last game. We are now focused on finishing the season strongly and laying a claim to next year’s Gold Cup place,” Woodward told the Daily News yesterday.
Woodward concedes that it will not be an easy task dislodging OGs off the summit but reiterated that they will try to raise the bar in the remaining games.
“They proved against OH in the qualifier that they are a step above everyone else in the league and to challenge them will be a very tall order. They have raised the bar and hopefully we can rise to the challenge,” he added.
“My team are motivated and do not lack the heart, whether or not we can develop enough in the remainder of the season remains to be seen.”
OJs have been hit by injuries and absenteeism in tomorrow’s match.
Notably, lock Brendan Jordaan and flyhalf Cain Chinogureyi who are a major doubt with injuries.
Woodward, however, insists they have good cover for these positions.
HSC on the other hand, also anticipate a tough encounter but are buoyed with the possible return of player-coach Daniel Hondo and hooker Tolerance Ishe.
They also have a number of players out injured with hooker Admire Chikuku and lock Desert Makamba sidelined.
Sportivo assistant coach Tinashe Shamhu hopes they can get the better of OJs as they have always did.
“I’m sure it will be a tough encounter but we have always had the better of OJs in this encounter,” Shamhu said.
“It’s been a mixed bag in training because most of the players have been out due to work commitments but we are glad we have some of them back for the weekend.
“Hondo, our player coach, hasn’t played in a long while but will surely be an important addition to the squad.”
In the other HRL encounter which will serve as a precursor to the main match OGs will lock horns with OH while OGs’ second team kicks off proceedings of the day with a date against Alexandra Sports Club first team.