Currently preparing for next month’s World Cup, the Welwitschias signalled their intentions with an emphatic 46-13 victory over Kenya in their Windhoek Draught Africa Cup clash in Windhoek on Saturday.
Their six-try win over the east African side, which saw the Namibians leading 25-6 at the break, came just over a year after Namibia lost to Kenya at the World Cup qualification tournament in Madagascar, a defeat that almost destroyed Namibia’s chances of qualifying for this year’s World Cup in England.
On Saturday at the Hage Geingob Stadium, the Kenyans found a very different Namibian side to the one they beat last year, as the Kenyans were no match for the Welwitschias, who clearly appeared to be the better conditioned and more tactically astute side.
Namibia’s point machine Theuns Kotzè opened the score within five minutes with a long-range penalty. Kenya’s Darwin Mukidza equalized a minute later after Namibia were penalized for going offside by South African referee Lesego Legoete.
The hosts played a territorial game. A lineout won on Kenya’s 22 resulted in the first try of the match, with Exeter Chiefs fullback Chrysander Botha dotting down across the line. 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 were awarded a penalty. Kotzè produced a perfectly weighted cross kick to find wing David Philander in the corner for the hosts’ second five-pointer. Kotzè slotted the conversion to stretch Namibia’s lead to 20-6.
Just before half-time, try scorer Philander was again involved, this time in the counter-attack. He left his Kenyan opponents for dead and sent Darryl de La Harpe away for a sensational try. The half-time score was 25-5 in favour of Namibia.
Just minutes into the second half, De La Harpe scored his second 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 take the score to 32-6 and Kenya were staring down the barrel of a humiliating defeat. 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 as head coach Phil Davies gave the entire bunch a run.
Sharks loose forward Renaldo Bothma, who had started all three home test matches from the bench, again made a huge contribution.
Bothma scored Namibia’s 6th try and made a big impact with his powerful runs. He 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 look a touch better but on the day they were completely dominated and outplayed by a Namibian side in full World Cup mode. The final score –46-13.
Namibia are now set to face Zimbabwe next weekend in Windhoek in the final match of the Windhoek Draught 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 the 2015 African Champions.