Namibia Suffer Third Straight Defeat

Namibia suffered their third straight defeat of their  Northern Hemisphere tour when there were beaten 29-20 by Portugal at the University of Lisbon in the Portugese capital on Saturday.  Namibia held a a 13-12 lead at the break.  The visitors took the lead five minutes into the match when flyhalf Theuns Kotze slotted a penalty from just inside his opponents half after referee Frederico Anselme from Argentina, penalised Portugal for slowing down the ball.
The Portuguese dominated the set pieces and their first try of the match came from quality line-out possession.  Flyhalf Nuno Penha e Costa put his centre Josè Lima into space, the inside back exploited the lack of communication between Kotzè and Johan Deysel and sliced through the gap to score in the eleventh minute.  Tiago Girão converted for a well deserved 7-3 lead.
After the hosts went offside defending a rolling maul, Kotzè slotted a second penalty to cut the deficit to a single point.  The Namibians started to find their feet and was the dominant side in the next 15 minutes, from a line-out they set up a number of phases and with the defence sucked in, Kotzè cut through to send hooker Torsten Van Jaarsveld away for his first try in the Namibian shirt.  Kotzè converted to open up  a six point lead for the visitors with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
Just before half time Portugal applied a lot of pressure on the Namibian scrum in their own 22, the result a poor clearance which gave Portugal an attacking line-out.  The hosts set up a well executed drive from the line-out, allowing lock Fernando Almeida to crash over for his side’s second try of the evening.  Girão failed to convert and the teams went into the break with the visitors leading 13-12.
Portugal started the second half very well but were still fortunate to take the lead after referee Anselmi missed two knock-ons and a forward pass in the build-up to Portugal’s third try scored by the exciting running fullback Pedro Aviula.  Girão was on target with the conversion, the hosts in the lead 19-13 just four minutes into the second half.  From this moment on Portugal never looked like losing the match despite being reduced to 14 men when Manuel Vilela Pereira was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.
The Welwitchias failed to take advantage of the situation as Girão slotted a penalty to extend the lead to 22-13.   Playing catch up rugby Namibia made many unforced errors, from a turn-over tover the ball was kicked through, replacement Shawn Kaizemi completely misjudged the bounce of the ball gifting fullback Aviula his second try of the match.  Girão made no mistake with the conversion and leading 29-13 with eight minutes remaining, Portugal had wrapped up victory over a side World Cup bound and a place higher on World Rugby’s rankings.
Johan Tromp scored a late consolation try but by then the damage had been done.  Although they had lost their two previous encounters on tour this was by far Namibia’s worst performance of the three week visit to Wales, France and Portugal respectively.  They struggled in the line-outs and scrums, and when they managed to win possession failed to take the ball through more than three or four phases.
A disappointed captain Rohan Kitshoff admitted that his team was devastated by the defeat, “We let ourselves down tonight, we did not stick to our structures and we couldn’t hold on to the ball for longer than three or four phases.”  Kitshoff said that this was a wake-up call to the Namibian side with the Rugby World Cup just ten months away, ”We have a lot of work to do, we can’t afford to play like this at the World Cup and expect to do well.  We must go back to the drawing board, take a long and serious look at ourselves before we start preparing for our opening match against New Zealand on the 24th of September next year.”  Stand-in coach Henry Kemp echoed the sentiments, “ We were not good enough tonight and will really have to work hard when we return to Namibia.  Although there were some positive aspects from the tour we at least should have beaten Portugal who will not be at the World Cup and we are very disappointed with ourselves.”