Flyhalf Theuns Kotze came to Namibia’s rescue with a converted try and a drop goal in the final minutes of the match as they narrowly beat Senegal 20-18 in their Africa Cup Division B rugby match in Antananarivo, Madagascar on Wednesday afternoon.
Senegal seemed set for a shock victory when they held an 18-10 lead with less than ten minutes to go.
Kotze caught Senegal’s defence by surprise as he took a quick tap penalty to dart over for a try under the posts, which he converted himself to narrow the deficit to 18-17.
With two minutes to go Kotze succeeded with a great drop goal from 40m out to put Namibia in the lead for the first time. Senegal had a chance to win the match when they won a penalty in injury time but the kick went wide as Namibia managed to hold on for the victory, which keeps them in the hunt for a place at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Earlier, fullback Justin Nel had opened Namibia’s account with a try from a backline move which Kotze converted with a great kick from the touchline. Senegal however took a 12-10 lead at halftime which they increased to 18-10 midway through the second half before Namibia’s late comeback.
According to team manager William Steenkamp it was a poor display by Namibia, who made a lot of basic errors.
“We made far too many unforced errors with too many handling errors and knock-ons, while the line-outs were a shambles. Our scrums were good though while the backline looked dangerous especially in the second half,” he said.
According to Steenkamp Justin Nel missed a near certain second try when he lost the ball while diving over the tryline, while wing Danie Dames also nearly scored after cutting through the defence but the support was lacking.
Namibia will now play Madagascar in the final of the CAR Championship Division B on Sunday July 8, after the home team had earlier shocked Morocco with a 35-28 victory.
Steenkamp said he expected Namibia to win the match although they would not underestimate Madagascar.
“Our forwards are much bigger and we should have the upper hand in the set pieces, but they have a dangerous backline, especially at flyhalf and centre, and we will have to watch them closely,” he said.
35 000 watch Madagascar set up Namibia match
According to www.rugbyworldcup.com, more than 35 000 fans packed the Mahamasina Stadium to watch the first round of the African qualifying campaign for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The final between Namibia and Madagascar will be played on Sunday, July 8 when IRB vice chairman Oregan Hoskins will accompany the Webb Ellis Cup to the venue for a match that is set to draw an even bigger crowd.
The CAR Division 1B event kicks off a three-season process of promotion and relegation between the three divisions in the CAR Championship and culminate with one team directly qualifying for England 2015 as winners of the flagship CAR Division 1A Championship in 2014.
Meanwhile, the winner of the CAR Division IC Championship in Botswana on July 22-29 featuring Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zambia, Mauritius, Nigeria and Botswana will progress to Division 1B in 2013 with the winner of that event promoted to Division 1A in 2014.
The runner-up from Division 1A in 2014 competition will have a second chance of making it to Rugby World Cup via the 2015 Repechage process and with South Africa automatic qualifiers via their position at New Zealand 2011 there is the possibility that Africa could have three representatives at Rugby World Cup 2015.