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80-point lesson taken on the chin

Pumas dominate pre-season friendly
The visitors from Mbombela showed exactly why they are the Currie Cup premier division title holders when they racked up an 81-8 score-line over the weekend.
Andrew Poolman
The Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will swallow the bitter pill of an unflattering home result against the Airlink Pumas and will focus on their readiness for the upcoming Currie Cup first division.

The visitors from Mbombela showed exactly why they are the Currie Cup premier division title holders and why they have not lost to any Namibian side since independence when they racked up an 81-8 score-line at the Hage Geingob Stadium over the weekend.

On their way to lifting the inaugural Airlink Cup in this pre-season friendly, the Pumas scored 13 tries – visibly upping the tempo in the second half when they scored a full 50 points from their half-time lead of 31-3.

Welwitschias head coach Chrysander Botha and the rest of his coaching staff have their work cut out for them to mould the local Namibian amateur side from talented individuals into the tightly knit unit required to be competitive against South African provincial unions.

Namibia’s last involvement in the Currie Cup first division was from 2016 until 2018, a period during which Welsh coach Lyn Jones showed the way with consistent improvement in the Welwitschias’ results and winning matches home and away – which proved that it is indeed possible.

'Grind it out'

“It was a massive opportunity and we are so grateful to have faced the Pumas. They are a classy outfit and this match will help us massively to adapt to the pace. They really showed us in the right direction. We will take this result on the chin and grind it out,” Johan Luttig, the Welwitschias captain on the day, said.

Luttig, the number eight from FNB Grootfontein, took over the leadership when Prince !Gaoseb was ruled out due to a shoulder injury in Wednesday night’s first of two pre-season friendlies against the Pumas.

He was among just a few individuals who showed early signs of putting pressure on the Namibian national test jersey-wearers in their respective positions in the year leading up to the World Cup in France, starting in September.

Pieter Daan Kok was added to the match squad as a replacement at number eight in the second half and impressed with his work rate across the field, with a high number of impactful tackles. Thomasau Forbes also kept up a good work rate, which can still improve later in the season.

Cohesion and continuity

Pumas' director of rugby Jimmy Stonehouse said in a post-match interview: “Our cohesion and continuity were key, and we focused on making double tackles.

“We were too strong in the scrums and thereby managed to minimise what the Welwitschias could show against us. The try the Welwitschias scored after a strong carry and a few phases showed that when they can control the ball, they could still make an impact”.

The Pumas try-scorers were right wing Sebastian de Klerk (three) and left wing Lundi Msenge, prop Simon Raw, hooker Lllewellyn Classen and his replacement Eduan Swart, fly-half Brandon Thompson, lock Shane Kirkwood (two), flanks André Fouché and Etienne Janeke and replacement scrum-half Giovan Snyman. Conversions were added by Thomson (three), Tinus de Beer (two) and Snyman (three).

The Welwitschias replied with a well-taken late try by replacement centre Hillian Beukes, which went unconverted by Henrique Olivier, following an earlier penalty by fly-half André van der Berg.

The local boys open their campaign in the Currie Cup first division (also renamed the Mzansi Challenge) on 25 March with an away match against the Border Bulldogs. Their first of seven home matches in Windhoek will be on 1 April against the Valke.


Namibian Sun 2023-03-29

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