Thousands of rugby fans made their way to Hartsfield stadium to watch the penultimate Rugby Africa Gold Cup match between Zimbabwe and Namibia
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True to their word, Zimbabwe began the match as a force to reckon with, off a kick-off from Namibia. Their interweaving backline anchored by flyhalf, Brandon Mandivenga proved to be the offensive system the team needed. Undeterred, two and a half minutes into the game, Namibia fuelled the rivalry by logging the first try by Lesley Klim and a successful conversion from Cliven Loubser to lead 7-0. Not to be undermined by their opponents, Zimbabwe fast-tracked their way to Namibia’s five to, score off a maul with a try placed by Matthew McNab and an equally successful conversion by Mandivenga in the eleventh minute upping the scoreline to 7-7.
Despite making technical changes which made an impact to Zimbabwe’s scoring system, the team’s defense began to give way to Namibia as PJ van Lill and Johann Greyling ran past to add more points cementing the team’s lead which, in turn, were converted by Loubser. By half-time, Namibia had won two successful penalties whilst conceding a single penalty to Zimbabwe leaving the score 24-7.
In the second half, Namibia’s Wian Conradie was the first to score with later contributions from Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tjiuee Uaniv and Johan van der Westhuizen. Johan Tromp managed to put in two tries past the Zimbabweans who were left playing a weak defensive as they failed to maintain their ball possession to facilitate an offensive. Namibia played rugby in its most basic form, completing their passes and maximising on Zimbabwe’s mistakes. Ball at hand, Zimbabwe presented some good runs from Mandivenga and David Makanda however, support in the field of play proved to be in short supply as they lost possession to Namibia. Zimbabwe’s fusion of the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens Cheetahs into the backline paid off as both Tafadzwa Chitokwindo and Shayne Makombe delivered tries for the home crowds.
Phil Davies, Namibia’s Head Coach shared his excitement: “You have to give credit to Peter and the players today, Zimbabwe was fantastic. They played some good rugby with good offloads which put us under more pressure. What we did is we dug deep and we were very clinical when we had to be- and we deserve the victory.”
Zimbabwe Sables captain, Denford Mutamangira also added: “Namibia is a very good side but we also showed some signs of brilliance. Whenever we thought we were back in the game, we conceded and it’s something that we need to work on to make sure we don’t concede soft tries.”
Abdelaziz Bougja, chairman of World Rugby’s African association, Rugby Africa (RugbyAfrique.com), said: “Today was another clear victory for Namibia, well done! The Zimbabweans however showed great skills and scored more points in this match against Namibia than Namibia has conceded over their first three matches. Depending on the result of Kenya Vs Tunisia next weekend in Nairobi, we might have a thrilling final on August 18 between Namibia and Kenya!”.
Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard, Founder and CEO of APO Group (APO-opa.com), the main Official Partner of Rugby Africa, said: “We are witnessing a high quality Rugby Africa Gold Cup as the nations compete for the chance to qualify for the Rugby World Cup 2019. Namibia is very much in the driving seat to qualify to their sixth consecutive Rugby World Cup, but if Kenya beat Tunisia next week, we will have a formidable final with Namibia vs Kenya on August 18. Rugby is the second most popular sport in Kenya and I know all Kenyan rugby fans are very excited about that prospect.”
In their next fixture against Uganda on the 18th of August, Zimbabwe will be fighting relegation whilst Namibia squares off with Kenya for the Rugby Africa Gold Cup at Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa.