Namibia Off to a Losing Start

Namibia’s Rugby World Cup qualifying campaign got off to a losing start as they went down 29-22 to Kenya in Antananarivo on Saturday.

Namibia led 12-7 at half time but Kenya finished ger, running in four tries to take a bonus point win. Namibia got one bonus point for losing by less than eight points.

Namibian coach Danie Vermeulen said it was a poor performance and vowed to do better in their second match against Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

“We started the match very well and scored two early tries, but that is where it stopped and we took the foot off the pedal. Poor handing, a lack of discipline and weak defence cost us the game at the end. We dominated the scrums and line-outs both on our ball as well as Kenya’s ball, but we could not convert the ball possession into points,” he said.

“We played poor rugby and we let each other down, we let our supporters down and we let the country down. We have a chance on Wednesday to redeem ourselves,” he added.

The vice president of the Namibia Rugby Union, Danie Strauss, who is accompanying the team in Madagascar, said that Namibia had deviated from its game plan.

“We played structured rugby according to the game plan for the first 15 minutes, but we lost focus and composure after scoring two quick tries. The team deviated from the game plan, missed crucial tackles and gave penalties away,” he said.

“It was just a bad day at the office. The team has huge potential and ability.

They are therefore extremely disappointed, but the spirit remains good and the team is committed to make us proud during the rest of the tournament,” he added.

Namibia got off to a great start with two tries by wing Heinrich Smit within the first 10 minutes.

The first came from the kickoff after a good break by eighthman PJ van Lill who quickly spread the ball down the back line for Smit to go over, while a break by Renaldo Bothma led to Smit’s second try.

Kenya however did well to come back with a try shortly before halftime and when they added a second early in the second half they took a 14-12 lead, with flyhalf Lavin Asego adding his second conversion.

A third try by scrum half Edward Achavo put them 19-12 ahead on 46m, but Namibia struck back with a fine try by fullback Chrysander Botha, who cut through the back line to dot down. With Theuns Kotze adding the conversion the teams were level at 19-all.

A Kotze penalty put Namibia 22-19 ahead but Kenya once again drew level through an Asego penalty on 60m.

In the final quarter Namibia’s discipline dropped as they conceded too many penalties and Kenya drew level at 22-22 through another Asego penalty.

They took the lead on 65m when substitute Andrew Amonde went over for a converted try, and despite Asego missing two kickable attempts in the final minutes, Kenya held on to win the match 29-22.

In the second African World Cup qualifying match, Zimbabwe ran out comfortable 57-22 victors against Madagascar.

Strauss said the standard of rugby on display was very high.

“The quality of rugby played at this tournament is very high and impressive. The countries playing in CAR 1A have improved immensely during the past year and the improvement of rugby in general in Africa is something that we can all be proud of. Namibia must recognise this change and realise that we are not the only force besides South Africa to be reckoned with.

“Kenya have learned a lot with their Vodacom Cup participation, Zimbabwe are playing impressive structured rugby, while Madagascar have invented their own style to suit their size and ability, and it is fascinating to watch them playing,” he said.

Strauss called on the Namibian nation to support the team.

“I am optimistic about our matches against Zimbabwe and Madagascar. The players are focussed and committed to make Namibia proud. Please continue to support our boys, they need the nation behind them,” he said.

Source : The Namibian