Windhoek - The gradual improvement of Namibia’s Welwitschias in the 2015 Vodacom Cup did not deliver much better results as the Blue Bulls recorded a comfortable 44-0 win here on Friday night.
The Pretoria team only led by 8-0 at half-time on a rainy night in the Namibian capital which made the underfoot conditions rather slippery.
According to the supersport.com website, the pouring rain started about two hours before kick-off and rarely stopped until midway through the second half.
Just then a power outage brought almost complete darkness to the Hage Geingob Stadium, which forced the players back into the change rooms for about ten minutes.
In the wet conditions both teams tested each other early with a few high kicks. The Bulls back three of fullback Mahlo Kefentse and wings Jamba Ulengo and Jade Stighling comfortably won these exchanges and even managed to escape the chasing defenders to produce some thrilling counter-attacking runs. The Bulls trio were also very well positioned to prevent the Welwitschias from gaining any advantage in terms of field position for the entire match.
Although the Namibians gave their most accurate performance of the season in the lineouts and scrums, coach Henry Kemp will be concerned at the forwards’ inability to physically compete with the rolling mauls as the main try-scoring weapon of the Northern Section heavyweights.
The Bulls’ first four tries all came from rolling mauls. Only one of those rolling mauls developed into an offload for centre Marquit September to barge over, while the others were tightly controlled by the forwards.
Despite the weather, the Bulls once again attracted a lively Windhoek crowd. Namibian fans were however disappointed in the overall performance of the local contingent of their World Cup bound home side. Much stiffer resistance was expected - such as last year when the visiting franchise’s Super Rugby squad were held to 6-6 at half-time and only managed a 34-13 win.
Up against the professional franchises whose contracted players train three times a day, the amateur Namibians have progressed to set up a system of training up to twice a day.
But in terms of selection and team preparation, coach Henry Kemp was let down by the Namibia Rugby Union’s rugby committee - who, a few changes later, only managed to give clearance to the final match-22 a few hours before Thursday’s captain’s run.
Another setback for Namibia was the loss of versatile flanker Tinus du Plessis after barely eight minutes of his return match. A suspected hamstring tear will once again keep him out of contention for a few weeks.