WINDHOEK - The Namibian senior rugby team, the Welwitschias defeated the visiting Kenya by 53 points to 28 in the decisive 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup, at a packed to te rafters Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
The hosts recorded their 5th consecutive victory in the continental cup competition, which ultimately qualifies the Namibians for next year’s World Cup finals in Japan.
Buoyed by a partisan home crowd, the Welwitschias were the first to register their name on the scoreboard via a well-taken penalty by Clive Loubser.
However, the visitors responded as they scored the first try of the match via flying winger William Ambaka, with Darwin Mukidza duly returning the compliment from the resultant conversion (7-3) with 13 minutes gone on the clock.
The hosts hit back through veteran enterprising fullback Chrysander Botha’s try which was expertly goaled by the educated boot of Loubser to make it 17-7 for the hosts. Namibia extended their slender lead through man of the match and double try scorer Louis van der Westhuizen.
The Sables were offered an ideal chance to reduce the deficit after they were awarded a penalty, but Ambaka missed the target - allowing Loubser to punish the visitors with a try and a conversion to increase Namibia’s lead to 22-7 going into the changeover.
After the resumption, the home side started much stronger with Van der Westhuizen visiting the whitewash for his 2nd try of the day within a minute after the break and Loubser made no mistake from the resultant conversion.
Namibia has won the Rugby Africa Gold Cup for five times in succession and will make their sixth consecutive World Cup finals appearance in Japan next year. Sensing defeat, the Sables made wholesale changes, as they sought to instill urgency to their game with Ambaka scoring his 2nd try for the visitors. Makidza duly goaled the try taking the score line to 32-14 but the hosts hit back soon afterwards with Mahepisa Tjeriko’s try and Loubser’s conversion to give the fired-up Namibians an unassailable lead of 39-14.
Darrly de la Harpe registered his name on the try scorers’ sheet, converted by Loubser, to all but put the result beyond any hopes the Kenyans might have entertained (46-14).
Nonetheless, the visitors kept pushing forward and captain Davis Chenge scored a try, which was converted by Mukidza and went on to narrow the deficit via a pair of converted tries, but Botha’s late try proved enough to end any further interest the Sables had in the outcome of an otherwise entertaining match. Final score Namibia 53 -28 Kenya
Speaking to the media after the match the coach of the victorious Welwitschias, Phil Davies, was pleased with the ambitions of his charges.
“We played well today, the team stuck to the game plan and this means a lot as we have been building a team since the last World Cup.
“We have an average age of 24 years now compared to 31 at the previous tournament, in fact we have depth now,” he delighted. Inspirational skipper Johan Deysel echoed Jones’ sentiments saying the team played well by utilizing all chances that came their way.
Ian Snook, the Kenyan coach, said his team played their hearts out but lost the match due to lack of ‘intelligence’.
Chairman of World Rugby’s African Association, Rugby Africa Abdelaziz Bougja said Namibia has been impressive all along in this competition and the strongest team won.
“Congratulations, I have no doubt that Namibia will make us proud at the RWC 2019 in Japan. Well done as well to Kenya who kept going and played really well. I’m very proud of our African teams and the progress they have made over recent years.”
Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, founder and CEO of APO Group, the main Official Partner of Rugby Africa, said: “As the main Official Partner of Rugby Africa, we will put all our efforts in ensuring the world knows about Namibia’s participation in the World Cup.
“We will soon unveil a communication plan aimed at promoting African rugby during the Rugby World Cup 2019.” – Additional Reporting: APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa.