WINDHOEK – Namibia’s rugby XV, the Welwitschias on Saturday won the 2nd edition of the highly competitive Windhoek Draught Tri-Nations Tournament after thrashing African champions Kenya by 55-35 in a thrilling encounter at the Hage Geingob Stadium.
Following a sluggish start in the first half that saw Namibia trail by 10 points going into the changeover 25-15 in favour of Kenya, the Welwitschias needed a toungue-lashing from coach Danie Vermeulen in order to jack up their act and started taking the game to the Kenyans, but this time more aggressively. Namibia’s kept coming forward and threw everything they had in the way of the Kenyans, who could no longer handle the Welwitschias’ onslaught and soon saw the score board reading 27-25, in favour of Namibia.
As the match wore on, the Welwitschias started growing in confidence as coach Vermuelen’s charges kept marching forward with some rousing attacks that created plenty of chances in the middle of the park and upfront, although Namibia’s forwards many a time failed to demonstrate their hunger for the goal line. With captain fantastic PJ Van Lill and his deputy Theuns Kotze pulling the strings and showing much experience through their ball handling skills and accurate tackles, Namibia kept coming with their aggressive style of play and soon extended their slender lead to 34-25 heading into the final minutes of the game, which was under the supervision of veteran South African referee Jonathan Kaplan who handled his 70th and last test match.
Referee Kaplan holds the record for refereeing the most international test matches and is the only referee to have won the award as South African Referee of the Year for four years in succession. In the final minutes of the match, Namibia kept their composure and made very few errors as they held on for a well-deserved 55-36 victory, to be become the first team to host and win the annual Windhoek Draught Rugby Series.
By Otniel Hembapu