KOBE – For half an hour on Sunday afternoon, a team (Namibia) made up of farmers, dentists, students and bankers was outplaying one of the greatest sports teams (New Zealand) in history.
Trailing 10-9 at the Tokyo Stadium, AJ De Klerk, PJ Van Lill, Justin Newman, Thomasau Forbes and Co. were tackling, running and rucking an All Blacks team boasting nine World Cup winners off the park, and scrum-half Damian Stevens was punishing every infringement with flawless accuracy off the tee.
Inevitably the world champions restored order and ultimately cantered to an 11-try victory over the lowest-ranked side in the tournament.
But Phil Davies's team showed they had learned some invaluable lessons from the chastening 57-3 loss to the Springboks a week earlier when they barely fired a shot.
"We just had to get the ball and keep it away from them," said captain Johan Deysel, who scored against the All Blacks at RWC 2015. "That was one of our goals and it worked well in the first half.