THEY may have only got a losing bonus point from a game they had targeted to win, but the Zimbabwe Academy side look a team quickly coming to grips with competing in the relatively rarified air of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
Brendan Dawson’s men gave Eddie Myners’ SWD Eagles the hurry up en route to one of those gallant defeats teams hate so much at the Mossel Bay festival at the D’Almeida Stadium.
The 31-25 defeat meant they remain one of the two teams (the other is the Namibia Welwitschias) yet to win a game in the tournament, but their competitiveness is shown by the fact that they have two log points from three games.
Dawson was mixed feelings personified after the game.
“Obviously we’re very disappointed with the result; we really targeted this game and really wanted to win it. But a lot of things didn’t go our way, we made a lot of silly mistakes, handling errors and the rough and the smooth of the officiating calls didn’t go our way,” said Dawson.
“We’re going to be competitive because we’re getting time together on the training paddock after having put 35 guys together in four days from all corners of the world at the beginning. And it’s going to get better if we trust in the plan and trust in the process and our understanding of what we’re trying to do.”
Dawson said being able to execute one or two things from training sessions had infused his players with belief that the things they’re working on work. He did bemoan the Eagles being “allowed” to camp offside in defence, but said his team had to learn to get around obstacles like that.
“But there are massive positives to take from that game; our defence was really brilliant even though we had one or two holes that crept in that we’ll work on this week. I’m much chuffed with the guys; they’re disappointed and rightly so, but I can see we’ve got buy in.”
Dawson’s counterpart Myners, whose side also went into the match needing their first win of the tournament, was understandably thrilled with the result.
“It’s good to have a win now and I think this is what we wanted, our target was five points from the game.
“My favourite part of the game was the scrums because we worked very hard on them during the week and our attacking breakdowns. During the week we looked at the log and we said we wanted to take five points from this game to move closer to the top guys.
“It’s important for us to target our home games now.
“We’re going to the Free State this weekend and it’s going to be tough, but the key is to pocket points from our home games. There’s a lot of growth in the team.”
Speaking of home games, Myners, who played and coached club rugby for Barbarians Rugby Club at the D’Almeida Stadium, said it was a bit tricky to look at the festivals as home games.
“Some of the guys are not used to playing in the strong wind, but we were playing in front of our own SWD people so it was a home game.”