Rugby Knockout Stages Begin

The Namibian Rugby Premier League reaches the knockout stages on Saturday when four teams will battle it out for semifinal places at the National Rugby Stadium in Windhoek.

After a long and protracted season, six teams have qualified for the knockout stages, of which the first matches take place on Saturday.

At 15h00 Rehoboth take on Kudus and at 16h45 United take on Reho Falcon. The two winners will then take on Wanderers and the defending champions Western Suburbs in the semifinals next week.

Rehoboth will start as the favourites for their match against Kudus. They lost just one match, against defending champions Western Suburbs during their league campaign and finished second in Group B, five points behind Suburbs.

Kudus on the other hand, only managed to win three of their eight league matches and nearly did not make the playoffs after they were overtaken by Dolphins in the final stages of their league campaign.

A convincing 71-3 victory against Walvis Bay in their final league match however saw them overtaking Dolphins to clinch the third and final playoff spot in Group A.

The second encounter between United and Reho Falcon should be much closer, although United should start the match as the favourites.

They had a fine league campaign, losing only one match against Wanderers and finished second in Group A on 38 points – two behind Wanderers.

Reho Falcon, on the other hand, only made the playoffs after a nail biting 29-28 victory against Unam in their final league match. They won only three of their five league matches and finished third in Group B on 21 points.

United’s manager Hannes Brits said they expected a tough match.

“Falcons finished third in their group but if you look at their results, they were very competitive and only suffered narrow defeats against Western Suburbs and Rehoboth. They have brought in several experienced players like Melrick Africa, Philippus Isaacs and Heini Bock so we are expecting a tough match,” he said.

Brits said they had a full squad to select from although their preparation had been hampered by the unavailability of several players who have been training with the national squad.

“National players like Jaco Engels, Stefan Neustadt and and Morne Blom only joined us this week, as well as several other players who have been training with the national Sevens squad. But we will be ready and are looking forward to the match,” he said.

Falcons, on the other hand, will be missing flyhalf Des Lee Beukes and eighthman Milando Titus through injury, and coach Ronaldo Pedro said they were expecting a tough encounter.

“It will be a very tough match but our preparations have gone well and the players are in good shape. We had a practise match against Namibia A last weekend and are ready to face United. We will give it our best shot,” he said.

The Premier League playoffs on Saturday will be preceded by the First League playoffs.

United II take on Reho Falcon II at 11h30, while Unam II take on Kudus II at 13h15.

Source : The Namibian