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Namibia record historic series win over Russia

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Namibia defeated Russia by 45 points to 5 in Windhoek on Saturday to clinch the Windhoek Draught Friendship Series 2-nil after the hosts also won the first test a week ago 39-19. The emphatic victory underlined the huge difference a week can make to a team like Namibia with both Head Coach Phil Davies and backline coach Pieter Rossow having had more time with the team. Saturday’s test victory was a more controlled and clinical performance than a week ago. Russia also produced a better performance but the difference was that Namibia improved a  great deal more and the five tries to one was testimony to the hosts dominance of the match watched by just over five thousand spectators.

Namibia’s flyhalf Theuns Kotzè slotted a third minute penalty, first test Man of the Match left wing Russell van Wyk then scored his third try in as many test matches to put the  hosts in the lead 8-0. Kotzè converted and then added two more penalties leaving Namibia in full command at 16-0. Like last week Russia cored late in the first half, the lack of concentration towards th break will be of concern to the Namibian coaching staff. A clever move at the front of the line out saw Russian hooker Evgeny Matveev score his side’s only points of the match.

The visitors started the second half with more intent only to see all their good intentions go up in smoke when they lost possession on Namibia’s 22, flyhalf Kotze countered and ran almost the entire half of the field to score at the other side. A spectacular effort which had the home crowd on their feet with appreciation of a trademark Namibian try. With Russia’s frustration growing by the minute South African referee Marius van der Westhuizen had his work cut out to put a lid on things, after a scuffle inside’s Namibia’s 22, Namibian captain Jacques Burger and Russia’s centre Dmitriy Gerasimov both spent ten minutes cooling off after receiving a yellow card from van der Westhuizen.

Russia’s lack of discipline cost the visitors when a try at a crucial stage of the match was disallowed after the assistant referee spotted loose-forward Pavel Butenko throw a number of punches. Butenko was also sent to the sin-bin with Russia down to 13 men.

The Bourg-en-Bresse based flyhalf Kotzè had one of his best performances in the blue jersey and almost everything he touched turned into gold. Twenty minutes into the match Kotzè executed a near perfect cross-kick. The well weighted kick found another French based player Conrad Marais who scored Namibia’s third try of the afternoon, Kotzè converted and slotted a third penalty to extend his side’s lead to 31 points to 5. With ten minutes remaining Russia ha no fight left in them, up against a side accustomed to the altitude and much better conditioned they played like a team for which the final whistle could not come soon enough.

Five minutes before the final whistle Namibia again won turn-over possession, another counter attack from deep inside their own territory saw Burger producing a clever kick, Marais again was the grateful recipient and used his pace to score his second try of the match. On the stroke of full time the Namibians could have easily kicked for touch with the win secured but instead delighted their supporters with another spectacular long range try. Replacement Johan Tromp set up Marais who completed his hat-trick and an emphatic performance by the hosts. The final score 45-5.

Kotzè was named Wondhoek draught Man of the Match after a polished performance with personal contribution of twenty points that included a try.

Back-line coach who had spent the last two weeks with Namibia after parting ways with the Bulls was satisfied with the performance. “ We played a much more controlled game today, our game management was much improved and we were also great deal patient. We put pressure on our opponents and I was impressed with our team’s patience, it paid of with some very good tries. “ said the former Springbok.

Namibia will now enjoy a three week break before facing Kenya in Windhoek on August 08 in the Africa Cup competition. The team will continue to work as they enter the last two months of preparations before their departure for the Rugby world Cup. Rossouw said they would take a lot from the series win over Russia, the first time ever they had managed to beat Russia. “The two victories against a side ranked higher than us would have given the players a great deal of confidence and to beat a side like Russia is good for us but now we need to build on that and improve even further going forward.

Result: Windhoek Draught Friendship Series, Namibia v Russia.

Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek, Namibia.

Namibia 45 (21) - Russia 5(5)

Scorers

Namibia-Tries: Russel van Wyk, Theuns Kotzè & Conrad Marais (3), Conversions: Kotzè (4), Penalties : Kotzè (4)

Russia- Try : Evgeny Matveev