A COURAGEOUS Namibian side held the world champions and yet undefeated New Zealand in the 2019 Rugby World Cup at bay and the spectators on the edge of their seats in the first half of the match in Tokyo.
The Welwitschias rattled the usually organised and clinical All Blacks for the first 35 minutes of the game and went into half time trailing by 20 points.
The rugby world paid attention when Damien Stevens scored the first points of the match, putting Namibia in the lead against the All Blacks for the first few minutes of the first half of the battle in Tokyo.
With 35 minutes of the first half gone, Namibia, ranked 23rd, managed to keep the score margin within one point of the world champions.
The Namibians held their ground bravely against the world champions and two more penalties from Stevens gave them a final score of nine. Despite the valiant effort from the Welwitschias, the All Blacks scored four tries by the end of the first half leaving them with a lead of 29 – 9 going into the break.
The Namibian lost two key players to injuries. Lock forward PJ van Lill and captain Johan Deysel came off with injuries during the first half which interfered with the early momentum of the Welwitschias.
The All Blacks regrouped and started the scoring early in the second half and ran in seven more tries while keeping the ball away from the Welwitschias.
The Namibians rallied again in the last 15 minutes of the game to frustrate the men from New Zealand to the delight of the crowd in Tokyo.
The 71 – 9 score at the end of the match showed a resounding win for New Zealand but the Welwitschias can hold their heads high.
In the post match interview the Welwitschia head coach, Phil Davies said he is extremely proud of the players for achieving the pressure they put on the world champions. Davies also paid tribute to the spirit in which the All Blacks played the match
“We have improved. The players are fantastic and had a magnificent performance against the world champions.”
Captain Johan Deysel said the team achieved their goal in keeping the ball away from the All Blacks.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for the younger players in the team to gain experience. We had a good first half and it was a good effort from the boys,” Deysel said.
The Namibians will now focus on their goal to win their first match in a Rugby World Cup when they face Canada next Sunday for their last match of the tournament.
Although the final score was 71 – 9 for New Zealand, the score margin of 62 is still less than that of the Canadians that lost their match against the All Blacks with 63 points.