By Khosi Pheko
The defending champions of the Econet Rugby Championship League, Maseru Rugby Warriors are having a bad run this season, in their attempt to retain the championship.
This is after they suffered two consecutive losses against highflying Mabote beavers – 34:10 last week Saturday and narrowly lost 15:11 to their arch-rivals Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) side Liqhomane, at the Lesotho Defence Force Airbase in Maseru, on Saturday. The clash between Liqhomane and the Warriors was electric; the spectacle was entertaining from the beginning until the very end; both sides were deemed powerhouses in this championship.
This loss places the defending champions in third position with 16 points in a five–aside championship log and will have to work hard to defend their title against high-flying Mabote Beavers who are in the first position with 25 points while the second position is occupied by their rivals Liqhomane with 18 points. However, there’s still hope for the Warriors. A top-four finish when the league ends will guarantee them a spot in the semi-finals where they will face either side that finished in the top 3 . Technically, the Warriors’ poor performance in the league will have little effect on the knockout stages as all teams will be regarded as favorites to go all the way to the final.
In an interview with Informative Newspaper after the game, head coach of the Warriors, Morapeli Motaung heaped praises on his team despite the defeat. He cited that his side comprises mostly young inexperienced players, and to display such a performance against a tough opponent is a sign of progress. He went on to say, that this promising performance is motivation that the team will soon improve and reclaim its dominance in the championship, it is only a matter of time.
“It was a very challenging game against one of the big teams. They are older and wiser; their level of physic is above us. I have been stressing that we are short of experienced players and we fielded young inexperienced players. But I was very impressed with how they played. It shows that we are building a competitive team, they played well although we lost. From here we just need to improve on our consistency, “he said.
For his part, the head coach of Liqhomane, Semethe Mosoeu, expressed without a doubt that this encounter is one of the biggest rugby matches locally. The coach praised his team for their excellent performance in the match. He had given his team clear instructions and they were able to “pass the assignment”. Coach Semethe understood the strength of their opponents and wanted his team to be prepared.
“We came into the match tactically planned and physically fit. Warriors are a good team and they are good at circulating the ball and spotting the gaps. They have many experienced players. Because we only have about three senior players while the rest only have played the sport for less than three years; we were primed for this match and we wanted to exploit their weaknesses, “he said.
He however was not entirely pleased with how his side played. He noticed how his players were not imposing their game style but were focusing more on the opponents.
“There were times when my players wanted to perfect the game plan than to enjoy their style. I even assembled them about 20 minutes through the match to calm them and to urge them to attack and frustrate Warriors, “Semethe said.