MASERU – Mabote Beavers held on in the face of a strong physical effort from Liqhomane to clinch the Econet Rugby League title at Mejametalana Ground last Saturday. Beavers beat the army side 30-15 in a highly entertaining meeting. Beavers coach Letsielo Mabitle said they won because they were a more determined team on the day.
“We won because we were a determined side,” said Mabitle in a post-match interview with Public Eye. He added: “We worked very hard to prepare for this game. We had sleepless nights, training in the afternoon, and mornings to get the boys ready for the final, and so much hard work paid off. I think that is what happened.”
This was despite the fact that arguably Liqhomane might have felt they had a stronger claim to win the tie because of a home ground advantage since the venue (Mejametana Ground) was one of the Lesotho Defence Force’s (LDF) terrains, but it was a frustrating weekend as Liqhomane failed to dominate in both the first and second half.
The Beavers’ mentor said he had to get some of his big players wherever they were in order to be able to match the Liqhomane team physically. “I had to get all of my big players in order to match Liqhomane, and indeed, today our opponents did not beat us with scrum,” Mabitle said.
Liqhomane coach, Semethe Mosoeu said his team was flat-footed. “We were flat-footed, and our defence was poor,” he said. “We lost ball possession frequently in the first half, and so they managed to attack us, and that saw them scoring two quick tries.” Mosoeu said his team started playing quite better in the second half.
“They started playing better in the second half after I talked to them, and we managed to score,” he said. Mosoeu said his charges thought they were going to win, but when they found the going tougher, they got frustrated. Liqhomane’s mentor, however, believes that his team could have played better than they did if it were not for injuries to some of his charges.
“All of my players were available for selection, even though some of them were nursing injuries,” Mosoeu admitted. The army-side coach also complained about poor refereeing. “Another thing was the refereeing, which was not up to scratch.” “I asked that (Realeboha) Joele should not be in charge of our game against the Beavers because he is part of the Beavers coaching staff and he is also a referee.”
Joele is a local referee who officiates regularly at the national level, including in the Econet Rugby League. Former champions, Maseru Warriors claimed the third position in the league table after beating Academy 38-29 early on the same day and at the same venue.