Windhoek - Fly-half Cliven Loubser pulled off a last grasp effort to hand Namibia a historic maiden test 30-28 win over tournament hosts Uruguay in the second round of the World Rugby Nations Cup on Sunday evening, which also saw Namibia climb two places on the World Rugby Rankings.
Namibia’s thrilling win came with the added bonus of a two-place rise to 21st in the World Rugby Rankings, as the Welwitschias ran in a total of four tries, four conversions and 3 penalty kicks to narrowly win their match at the Nations Cup since joining the competition in 2015.
Picking up two points for beating higher-ranked opposition, the Welwitschias have overtaken Canada and Portugal and also reached their highest position since November 2017. Los Teros as Uruguay as known, meanwhile, have slipped below Samoa into 17th place as a result of the defeat.
In Sunday’s thrilling encounter, Cliven Loubser won a exhilarating match with the last kick of the game after Namibia had threatened to blow a golden opportunity to register a first-ever victory against defending Nations Cup champions and tournament hosts Uruguay.
The Welwitschias were ahead on the scoreboard from the moment Loubser kicked them into a 10th-minute lead but when Federico Favaro brilliantly converted German Kessler’s try wide on the right with barely a minute of normal time left on the clock to make the score 28-27, it looked as though Los Teros would break their hearts.
But Loubser kept his nerve to give Phil Davies’ side a real shot in the arm ahead of their participation at Rugby World Cup 2019. After Loubser’s initial strike, Namibia raced into a 17-0 lead thanks to a brace of tries from hard-running number eight Janco Venter, both converted by Loubser, after Uruguay had been reduced to 14 men following a yellow card to hooker Kessler.
Andres Vilaseca’s converted try on 36 minutes gave Uruguay a foothold in the match and he crossed again, at start of the second half, following another Loubser penalty, as Los Teros closed the gap to six points.
All the momentum appeared to be with the home side, especially when Nambia lost winger Oderich Mouton to the sin-bin, but it was the Welwitschias who scored next after a terrible mix-up behind Los Teros’ own line saw JC Greyling pounce on the loose ball.
With Loubser adding the simplest of conversions, Namibia led 27-14 with 63 minutes gone. However, Uruguay hit back to score two converted tries through replacement back Manual Ardao and Kessler to take the slenderest of leads.
A high tackle in centre field presented Namibia with one last chance to salvage the situation and Loubser stepped up to coolly slot the ball through the posts from a few metres short of halfway. The joyous celebrations at the end of the game showed how much the win meant to Namibia.
The Welwtischias face Russia on Saturday as they currently sit third in the group with six points after dispensing Argentina (48-40). Russia gave themselves an outside chance of winning the World Rugby Nations Cup for the first time after surviving a storming fightback from Argentina XV.
Namibia still occupies the position number four on the log standings with only four points, while Uruguay tops the group with seven points followed by Argentina with six points. – Additional info: World Rugby