Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Uruguay overturned an eight-point half-time deficit on Wednesday night to inflict yet another defeat on Namibia at a rugby union World Cup.

The disconsolate scenes among the Namibian players outlined the nightmare ending to their camapign after losses to Italy, New Zealand and France

The Africans drew first blood in a game they sensed they could win.

Santiago Arata's wayward pass to fly-half Felipe Etcheverry was scooped off the floor by Gerswin Mouton who ran 70 metres for the try.

Tiaan Swanepoel converted to give Namibia the lead in a game at the 2023 World Cup for the first time.

They extended it after 11 minutes working the ball from the centrel to the left wing where JC Greyling skipped round the tackle of Felipe Arcos Perez to score in the corner. Swanepoel added the conversion to offer an unlikely scoreline.

But Uruguay gradually began to exert pressure and a scrum down the left eventually yielded the try for Baltazar Amaya.


Another sloppy piece of Uruguayan handling coughed up possession and eventually a penalty.

And Swanepoel added the three points for a 17-5 advantage.

It was soon cut when German Kessler plunged over and Etcheverry knocked over his first points of the day.

But another penalty to the Namibians allowed more distance and a half-time lead of 20-12 and - following deficits in all their three previous matches - an altogether different type of half-time talk.

"We spoke at half-time about winning control," said Namibia coach Allister Coetzee. "How do we keep control?"

The Namibian restart suggested they had heeded his counsel. Uruguay conceded a penalty within 90 seconds and Swanepoel gratefully accepted the invitation to kick for another three points to extend the lead to 23-12.

But they imploded. Aranos Coetzee was yellow carded and while he was off, Amaya went over for Uruguay to cut the lead and rack up the pressure. Felipe Etchevery converted to reduce the gap.

And two tries in four minutes - one of them when Namibia were down to 13 men - following yellow cards for skipper Tijuee Uanivi and substitute Des Sethi changed the physionomy of the clash.

The first - Arata's solo shimmy through the defence broke them. It not only made up for the scrum-half's poor pass that led to the first Namibian try but, importantly for Uruguay, gave them the lead for the first time in the match.

The second simply exploited the gaps. Bautista Basso collected a sumptuous cross field kick from Felipe Berchesi - on for Etcheverry - to give Uruguay a 31-23 lead and the veteran adorned his handiwork with the conversion and a 73rd minute penalty to ensure that the Namibians could not return.

"Obviously, everyone's disappointed," said Uanivi. "Because I think there's an aspect of we beat ourselves. So that's the biggest sort of what you might say regret.

"But at the same time, you can't take anything away from the boys. They really left it all out there.In the second-half under, they were under pump and so much as I'm disappointed personally for for my yellow card as well, there's a sense of pride as well amongst the boys and I can't fault them."

Namibia finish their seventh World Cup campaign still hunting for a first win.

Uruguay, having notched up their fourth victory in World Cups, play their final game against New Zealand on 5 October In Lyon.

"All the players and staff want to go up against them," said Uruguay boss Esteban Meneses.

Originally published on RFI

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