Johannesburg – Namibia recorded an emphatic 46-13 win over Kenya in an Africa Cup match at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.
Leading 25-6 at the break, the hosts completed a six-try win over the East African side just over a year after Namibia lost to Kenya at the World Cup qualification tournament in Madagascar, a defeat that came very close to destroying Namibia’s Rugby World Cup ambitions.
On Saturday the Kenyans found a very different Namibian side to the one they had beaten last year, and the final score-line was very kind to the visitors. Despite their recent victories over Spain and Portugal respectively, the Kenyans were no match for the Namibians who six weeks out from the Rugby World Cup, looked to be the better conditioned and tactically astute side.
Namibia’s point machine, Theuns Kotzè opened the score in the fifth minute with a long range penalty, Kenya’s Darwin Mukidza equalised a minute later after Namibia were penalised for going off-side by South African referee Lesego Legoete.
The hosts played a territorial game, a line-out won on Kenya’s 22 resulted in the first try of the match, from a rolling maul as the ball was played wide and Exeter Chiefs fullback Chrysander Botha scored in the corner. Kotzè converted and added a penalty for a 13-3 lead.
Mukidza slotted a second penalty to narrow the gap to six points but that was the last time the visitors had any say in the match. Quick thinking by Kotzè led to Namibia’s second try, after sustained pressure on the Kenyan try-line Namibia was awarded a penalty, Kotzè produced a perfectly weighted cross kick to find wing David Philander in the corner for the hosts’ second try. Kotzè slotted the conversion to stretch Namibia’s lead to 20-6. Just before half-time try-scorer Philander was again involved, on the counter attack he left his Kenyan opponent for dead and sent Darryl de La Harpe away for a sensational try.
Just minutes into the second half de La Harpe scored his second of the match after Kotzè spotted the Kenyan defence up flat, his chip kick was well-placed and the bounce favoured de La Harpe who gratefully accepted. The conversion was on target to make the score 32-6.
Injuries forced Kenyan coach Jerome Paarwater to replace both his starting props and as a result the visitors’ scrum struggled. Namibia exploited this and after yet another collapsed scrum referee Legoete had no option but to award a penalty try to Namibia. Leading 39-6 with still 15 minutes to go Namibia lost a bit of momentum with a number of substitutions made with Head Coach Phil Davies giving the entire squad a run.
Shark’s loose-forward Renaldo Bothma who had started all three home test matches from the bench, again made a huge contribution in the 25 minutes that he was given against Kenya. Bothma scored Namibia’s sixth try of the match and made a big impact with his powerful runs and was unstoppable going over the line with a number of Kenyan defenders on his back.
The visitors did get a late consolation try scored by left wing Joshua Chisanga to make the score line look a touch better, but on the day they were completely dominated and outplayed by a Namibian side in full World Cup mode.
While happy with the win, Namibian captain Jacques Burger though was not entirely satisfied with the performance.
“We tried a lot of things today and towards the end we opened it up a little bit too much, very valuable lessons were learnt today and hopefully we can improve even more next weekend against Zimbabwe,” said Burger.
The Namibian captain also said he was happy with the progress of his side.
“We have three wins on the trot now and that is very important for our confidence leading up to the Rugby World Cup, we are working very hard, finding our feet and I am happy with our progress.”
Namibia’s lock Tjiuee Uanive was named Man of the Match, one of many outstanding players in the Namibian side including debutants, scrumhalf Damien Stevens and loose-forward Wian Conradie who both delivered satisfying performances, enough to show that they would feature strongly in future Namibian sides.
Namibia take on Zimbabwe next weekend in Windhoek in the final match of the Africa Cup. The two sides are level at the top of the standings with two victories each and the winner of this match will be crowned as the 2015 African Champions.
Scorers: Namibia: 46 (25)Tries: Chrysander Botha, David Philander, Darryl de la Harpe (2), Renaldo Bothma & a penalty try. Conversions: Theuns Kotzè (5), Penalties: Kotzè (2)
Kenya: 13 (6) Try: Joshua Chisanga. Conversion: Mukidza. Penalties : Darwin Mukidza (2).