Wanderers V United in Final Showdown

The Namibian club rugby season reaches its climax on Saturday when Wanderers and Trustco United battle it out for the Premier League trophy at the Hage Geingob National Rugby Stadium.

It is the first time in four years that either team has reached the final, with Wanderers last winning the title in 2010, while United were losing finalists to Rehoboth the previous year.

Since then, Western Suburbs took over the mantle of Namibia’s most successful club, winning the title for the past two years, but this season, Wanderers and United have emerged as the dominant forces in Namibian rugby.

There is not much to choose between the teams as both only lost one match during the season, while Wanderers have a slight edge in head-to-head encounters.

In their first league match in March, United beat Wanderers 19-12, but the following month Wanderers won their annual derby 27-6.

Wanderers were also victorious in their second league encounter on 21 June, winning it 22-20 after weathering a late comeback by United.

Both sides enlisted new coaches this season and both JP Nel of Wanderers and Jood Opperman of United have made their mark and implemented their structures on their squads.

Under Nel, Wanderers have been in terrific form, scoring some big victories, while their 35-6 win against Suburbs on 2 August gave them the early favourites tag for the title.

Opperman, the former Namibian prop, who coached Rehoboth to victory in 2009 and shortly also coached the national side, has brought solidity to United’s pack of forwards.

The forward battle will be cardinal and it will be interesting to see how the packs weigh up against each other, with Jaco Engels, Franklin Bertolini, Stefan Neustadt and Jandre Lamprecht leading United’s charge against the likes of Johnny Redelinghuys, Nico Esterhuizen, Tinus du Plessis and DG Wiese of Wanderers.

Both teams also have exciting back lines with Tuna Amutenya and Nandivatu Karuoombe scoring numerous tries and emerging as match winners for United this season, while Wanderers’ trump cards are national centre Johan Tromp and exciting fullback Lean Stoop.

Wanderers coach JP Nel said they were motivated and looking forward to the match.

“It’s the first time since 2010 that we are in the final, so everyone is motivated and looking forward to the match. At this stage there is not much more we can do – we just have to focus and implement what we’ve done all season,” he said.

Nel said United played a similar game to Wanderers and he knew what to expect from them.

“We know how they play – they like to lay a platform with their forwards and then to attack with their nippy back three, so we know what to expect,” he said.

“But I believe we have the players to win the final, as long as we stick to our structures,” he added.

Oppermann said they were ready and looking forward to a great match.

“The atmosphere is great, my players understand the game plan and we believe and have faith in each other,” he said.

Oppermann said he expected a tough forward battle.

“We are expecting an arsenal of forward attacks from Wanderers but we are ready for them. In the end, the team with the best discipline and greater desire to win, will win the game. Most of the big matches are already decided in the changing room through the attitude of the players,” he said.

“May the best team win and I’d like to call on all the supporters to come out in full force to watch a great match,” he added.

The Premier League final will kick off at 16h45 and will be preceded by three other finals.

Reho Pandas take on Phoenix in a women’s match at 11h30, while Keetmanshoop take on United II in the First League final at 13h15.

At 15h00 the Reserve League final takes place between Western Suburbs II and Unam II.

Tickets cost N$20 for adults and N$10 for children.

Source : The Namibian