Benade lauds Old Hararians depth in Paramount Seniors Championship opener

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Zimbabwe rugby team head coach Pieter Benade

OLD Hararians announced themselves as genuine Paramount Seniors Championship League title contenders after overcoming the absence of several seasoned players to clinch a crucial 38-15 victory against Old Crestonians in their competition opener at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

Despite missing several first-team regulars who were representing the Zimbabwe Goshawks in the Mzansi Challenge, Old Hararians showcased the abundant depth in their ranks with a crucial win against a vastly improved Crestonians side.

Old Hararians are seeking a third successive Paramount Seniors Championship League title in what is a landmark yet for one of Zimbabwe’s oldest existing sports clubs. Old Hararians, established exactly a century ago in 1922, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Former Zimbabwe Under-20 team flyhalf Benjamin Pattenden led the Old Hararians charge with a perfect five conversions and a penalty along with a try for an individual points haul of 18 points.

Veteran ex-Sables prob Brian Makamure got two tries while club captain Jeff Makoni matched his prop partner with a brace of tries to ensure Old Hararians began their campaign with a much-needed victory under new head coach Pieter Benade.

Benade, the former Western Province flyhalf, who is also part of the Zimbabwe Goshawks’ backroom staff was happy with his side’s display against a good Crestonians side, which is made up mostly of former students at Hillcrest College in Mutare.

“It was a very good-natured match and the opposition certainly came out to play and gave a great account of themselves, so well done to their players and coaches for the effort they have put in,” he said.

The ex-Prince Edward School maestro said he is very impressed by the amount of depth in his squad as the club.

Old Hararians had several players who were in the Zimbabwe Goshawks side which put on a good show in their Mzansi Challenge Cup match against Namibian side Windhoek Draft Welwitschias despite narrowly going down 26-31 in the main match of the afternoon.

“There’s some potential there for the future. Old Hararians was very proud to have such a large number of players doing national duty for the Goshawks and the guys performed very well, which we were very glad to see.

“Having all those guys out allowed a younger inexperienced side to get first-team exposure and although it was a rusty opening period we got some attacking rhythm going in the last 20 minutes to put a very gutsy Old Crestonians side out of reach.”

Benade, who earned his coaching badges in the Cape Town area, where he has played for Currie Cup side Western Province said he is happy to be playing his part to complement the efforts being made to rebuild local club rugby structures.

“I’m trying to help everywhere I can and am excited about the talent at the clubs and helping develop those guys so that the level everywhere goes up.

“Having club guys do so well for the Zimbabwe Goshawks in that match against the Namibians was amazing to see. Trying to create an environment for them to enjoy and thrive is exciting.”

Benade also paid tribute to the league’s sponsors Paramount for their support for local club rugby.

“Paramount Garments have been amazing in general for local rugby. Having a local league up and running is essential for all clubs’ survival. Obviously, players want matches and we see the excitement at training and attendance increase when there are matches on the weekend.

“Players need to have 15 to 20 matches available to players each year to ensure there is enough match time for young players to learn and develop so that is what we are aiming for at the club and Goshawks,” he said.

Meanwhile, there was also a winning start for Harare Sports Club after they overcame a scare in the first half to secure a hard-fought 27-10 win against Mutare Sports Club 20-10.

In the only women’s game of the day, Zimbiru were too good for Harare Sports Club after securing a dominant 34-0 victory.

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