Old Georgians overcame an eight-point first half deficit to clinch the inaugural edition of the Nedbank Rugby Challenge Cup with a 46-35 win over Old Hararians in a thrilling final at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
Old Hararians appeared on course to pull off a major upset as they went into the break with a 20-12 lead against the pre-match favourites, Old Georgians.
The Dragons, who were yet to lose a match in the competition proved why they have been the top side in the competition with a superb second half display which was capped off by two brilliant tries by enterprising fullback Ryan Mushumhi.
With the scores at 18-20 in favour of Old Hararians and very little to choose between the teams who both played an attacking brand of rugby, Mushumhi, who is part of the Cheetahs Academy proved to be the major difference with two impressive tries.
The gifted fullback showed devastating pace and deceptive skill on both occasions as weaved through the opposition’s defence to score and effectively decide the contest.
— Nedbank Zimbabwe (@NedbankZimbabwe) March 12, 2022
In a thrilling encounter which saw a total of 10 tries being scored, Old Georgians scored five of them with wing Brandon Boshi and Mushumhi scoring two tries apiece while scrum-half Carlos Matematema and Vuyani Dhlomo also crossed the whitewash.
Old Georgians flyhalf and captain Jerry Jaravaza was impressive from the kicking tee as he chipped in with two penalties and five conversions.
Old Hararians also managed five tries from Rufaro Chikwaira, Malvin Nyakuyedzwa and a hat-trick from winger Leonard Takavengwa but it was the kicking which proved to be the difference in the end.
While Jaravaza converted all of Old Georgians’ tries, OH’s Tinotenda Savanhu could only manage a single conversion and penalty before being pulled out of the game deep in the second half.
Veteran Tichafara Makwanya took over the kicking duties and chipped in with a penalty and a conversion.
While the kicking played its part in swaying the match on Old Georgians’ favour, in the end it was the individual brilliance of Mushumhi which ensured the Groombridge-based side got their domestic season off to the perfect start.
Dragons’ coach Mark Wilson singled out Mushumhi for individual praise for his fantastic tries.
“Ryan (Mushumhi) is an absolute legend; he is a quality player. “He has international class, in my opinion, and when he gets a good front-foot ball, things always happen with him,” an elated Wilson said after the match.
Meanwhile in the earlier third and fourth place playoff match, Harare Sports Club beat the Under-20 High Performance Squad 37-20.