Rugby- Western Panthers on Saturday dispatched Gweru Sports Cub in a tightly contested and controversial match played at Hartsfield grounds in Bulawayo.
Trailing by only seven points, a last minute ‘bad’ call from the referee, Valentine Magobo who spent the better part of the match making controversial calls robbed Gweru of what could have been the side’s first points in the Intercity Rugby League table as they went down to the home side 31-24.
Gweru Coach/Player Kilvan Magunje said despite the need for his team to be solid in their play, the referee contributed to the bad flow of the game.
“Gweru performed okay but we really need to be more clinical in the last third of the field. The game was going to be very exciting if we had good officiating, the ref’s performance was terrible and lacked the knowledge of the rules of the game,” he said.
Panthers coach George ‘Rollo’ Mukorera expressed the same sentiments.
“The ref’s decisions were very appalling; he needs to pick up his game because we can say he is the one who killed us at the end of the day.
“The refereeing was quite bad, we cannot afford to have such refs in the Intercity League because it seemed like he did not know about any law and he was acting like a headless chicken in the field to us,” Mukorera said.
Coach Rollo, as Mukorera is popularly known, went on to say Panthers is currently on a rebuilding phase with a young side as most of the senior players who made the core of the team left, such as Mbongeni and Osiletha Ndlovu as well as Busani Ncube.
In what was the highlight of the day towards the end of the game Gweru kicked the ball from their half to ease pressure which was caught by the Western Panthers blind wing who was the last man on defence, only to realise that there was a charging Gweru player and threw the ball right in front of charging player in fear of being tackled.
The Gweru player then picked the ball heading for the try line only for the ref Magobo to blow for a knock instead of what most people thought would have been advantage play for the visitors.
Gweru players protested against the call in anger threatening to abandon the match before the final whistle but some of the match officials managed to bring things to order and the game continued for the remaining few minutes.
Zimbabwe Rugby Referees Society (ZRRS) national executive member and Matabeleland (RRS) Chair Simba Dangah said clubs are justified to complain as long as it is within law and after every match referees are reviewed and ranked according to performance by coaches of match officials and poor performance results in down grading.
Meawhile at the same venue after the Gweru Panthers game, Old Hararians (OH) trounced Old Miltonians (elephants) in a highly contested and entertaining match.
Despite putting up a brilliant fight, the Elephants had to go down by 25 points losing 30-5 in what Coach Paradzai Matsika attributed to lapses in defence and failure to get into their game plan.