It’s Do or Die for Namibia

It’s do or die for Namibia when they take on Zimbabwe in their second Rugby World Cup qualifying match in Madagascar on Wednesday.

After their surprise 29-22 defeat to Kenya on Saturday, Namibia will now have to beat Zimbabwe, preferably by a big score, if they want to remain in contention for a place at next year’s World Cup.

Zimbabwe went to the top of the four-nations log on five points after beating Madagascar 57-22 on Saturday, while Kenya are second, also on five points but with an inferior points aggregate, after picking up a bonus point for four tries against Namibia.

Namibia got one bonus point for losing against Kenya by less than eight points, while Madagascar are bottom of the log on zero points.

After today’s matches there is still one round left on Sunday, but Namibia will have to beat Zimbabwe handsomely to narrow the gap on the leaders.

That however will not be an easy task as Zimbabwe showed in their convincing victory against Madagascar.

They have a solid pack of forwards, which is bound to provide a bigger challenge in the set-pieces than Kenya did, while flyhalf Guy Cronje is a fine tactician, keeping the ball ahead of his pack while also using the back-line to good effect.

Against Madagascar, Zimbabwe held a narrow 22-15 lead at halftime, but they produced a great second half performance to run in a total of nine tries. Flanker Jacques Leitao led the way with four tries, while wing Stephen Hunduza (two), eighthman Lambert Groenewald, centre Riaan O Neill and wing Tafadzwa Chitokwindo scored the others.

Namibia has made two changes for the match against Zimbabwe, with Mune Tjiueza coming in for Tinus du Plessis at lock, while Johnny Redelinghuys replaces Jaco Engels at prop.

According to the vice president of the Namibia Rugby Union, Danie Strauss, Du Plessis has a ‘light injury’ and is being rested for today’s match.

“Tinus has a light injury in his knee and hip. He thus needs to be managed to enable us to use him strategically during the remainder of the tournament.

“Munee’s aggressive style of play will be needed against Zimbabwe. He is a very good ball carrier and very difficult to bring down. We therefore need him against a team like Zimbabwe who play structured rugby,” he said.

Strauss indicated that Engels did not have a good match against Kenya.

“Jaco did not have the best of games against Kenya, but played brilliantly against the Bulls. Managing him will also be important for the tournament. Both Jaco and Jonny are massive contributors to the team but they are not the youngest,” he said.

Strauss said Zimbabwe played a similar style of rugby as Namibia, but expected a good performance by the Namibians.

“Zimbabwe is a well-balanced team that sticks to its structures, and they are also very disciplined. They play our style of rugby which means that the team that executes and defends the best, maintaining discipline and sticking to the game plan, will win the match.

“It will be a fascinating contest between the loose forwards and the tight phases, and the manner in which the flyhalves try to dictate, but I am confident that Namibia will do well against Zimbabwe,” he said.

Strauss said they were not in a good position on the log, but they still have a chance to win the tournament.

“Namibia still have a chance to win the tournament. We have to win the matches against Zimbabwe and Madagascar with bonus points, scoring four tries and more, while we cannot allow the teams playing against us to get a bonus point. Either Madagascar or Zimbabwe need to beat Kenya and prevent bonus points.

“The matches on Wednesday will present a clearer picture of where Namibia stands in terms of qualifying. The loss against Kenya was a huge mistake on our part an now our destiny lies in the hands of others, which is not a good position to be in.

The mood and spirit in the camp is however, very good,” he said.

The match will be screened live on SuperSport 9 at 11h00 Namibian time on Wednesday.

The Namibian team is as follows:

Johnny Redelinghuys, Rathony Becker, Andre Schlechter, Munee Tjiueza, Morne Blom, Rohan Kitshoff, Renaldo Bothma, PJ van Lill (captain), Arthur Bouwer, Theuns Kotze, Heinrich Smit, Johan Deysel, Darryl de la Harpe, David Philander, Chrysander Botha.

Source : The Namibian