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Dublin: 13°C Friday 23 April 2021
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Namibia are on the board! Kotze gets the Africans off the mark with an incredible penalty from well inside his own half… an unbelievable strike. Between this chap and Francois Steyn: what are they feeding the South(ern) Africans?

Namibia  3 – 0 Fiji

The marauding Fijian pack causes mayhem at the restart. Turning the ball over with apparent ease, it’s fed out wide to Noneva, who finds himself with an overlap on the right wing. A routine try, and it’s converted by Bai confortably.

Namibia 3 – 7 Fiji

Kotze’s done it again. First a penalty from 55m, now a drop goal to add an exclamation point to a period of impressive Namibian attacking play.

Namibia 6 – 8 Fiji

After pounding a kick upfield and into touch, Kotze latches onto another loose ball to kick another drop goal.

And another! This is incredible. He’s secured a hat-trick of drop goals inside the opening fifteen minutes.

Namibia 12 – 7 Fiji

A slightly shell-shocked Fiji stream forward, but play halts when Piet Van Zyl downs Bai with a high tackle. The Namibian immediately receives receives a shove from Lovabolavu, but Nigel Owens is content to disregard he latter infraction, leaving Fiji with a penalty.

Namibia 12- 10 Fiji

Try to Fiji! Fiji turn over possession deep inside their own half and immediately find space in the middle of the park, breaking through Lovabolavu. Some desperate Namibian defending tries to keep the islanders at bay, but a couple of lovely passes over the top sets up a routine try and conversion.

Namibia 12 – 17 Fiji

Fiji have another one try, seeming from nothing. Gonvea finds the ball on the right wing and powers over the line into the corner.  Bai misses the conversion, leaving Fiji with a ten-point lead.

Namibia 12 – 22 Fiji

Another score for Fiji, this time a penalty. Bai makes no mistake from in front of the posts.

Namibia 22 – 25 Fiji

This is really quite exciting. Fiji are playing powerful, running rugby. Carefree and undisciplined, it makes for exhilerating, seat-of-your-pants viewing. Namibia are never more than a handling error away from running in a try of their own, but the Pacific islanders are just about holding it together…

An Fijian infringement at the breakdown gifts possession to Namibia on the halfway line. They take a quick penatly and unleash a wave of criss-crossing attacking runs from the centre of the park. Van Wyk makes an impressive line-break, only to be hauled down (and held) five metres short of the Fijian line… and Namibia squander the resulting scrum. *sigh*

Burger makes space for Dames with a lovely offload. The winger is one-on-one with Talei. Panicked, he chips it directly into the Fijian’s arms.

A minute later and the Namibians are breaking again. A clever chip over the top from Kotze leaves Van Wyk and Nalaga in a foot race that the Namibian appears to win! Did he ground it? Owens take it upstairs.

NO TRY!

It’s gone back for a Fijian drop-out, before which Lovobalavu receives yet another warning, this time for a high tackle.

A knock-on leaves Namibia with a scrum well inside the Fijian half. This should be a good platform from which to launch an attack.

Some confident ball-carrying from the Africans goads Fiji into infringing at the breakdown. Kotze, the kicking maestro, finds himself with an effort about thirty yards out, just inside his left touchline. A confident strike, it splits the posts.

Namibia 15 – 25 Fiji

Fiji have created little in the last fifteen minutes. The Namibians, for all their shortcomings, are highly organised and content to do the simple things well, to the exclusion of all risk. It’s an approach that’s frustrated Fiji into a number of unforced errors.

Oh dear. Scratch that. Another try for Fiji! It’s Goneva who goes over for his hat-trick. He’s been devastating with the ball in hand this evening (morning? I don’t even know anymore). Bai’s conversion begins to move sideways on the wind– a high draw, in golfing terms– and slips just inside the right post. It’s another seven points.

Namibia 15 – 32 Fiji

HALF-TIME: In spite of their competance in possession and a canny fly-half, Namibia just have no defensive answer to Fiji’s ball-carrying. Class offloads, strong running from every position on the pitch, gloriously unpredictable changes in direction: Fiji are essentially a fifteen-man Sevens outfit when they find themselves on the front foot.

We’re back underway… Namibia secure possession inside their own half, but kick it

away pointlessly. Luckily for them, a Fijian fumble gifts them with a scrum, which they use to relieve the pressure.

Marvellous break from Van Wyk! The centre breaks free and streams across the park, eventually offloading to Marais on the Namibian left wing. A series of quick passes back across the pitch leaves Koll to bundle over the line for a try! Kotze, whose speed helped set the second row on his way, misses the conversion.

Namibia 20 – 32 Fiji

Namibia make their discipline at the breakdown count again, overwhelming the Fijians in the middle of the park.

Du Plessis has been replaced by Rohan Kitshoff.

Goneva’s gone over for another try! A quick side-step and break from Lovobalavu leaves Goneva with space to lengthen his stride and coast under the posts for his fourth try of the game. Bai makes it another maximum return.

Namibia 20 – 39 Fiji

Vulivuli is on for Murimurivalu; Koto is on for Veikosa.

O’Callaghan is on for horn; Van Lill is on for Esterhuyse.

Namibia have another try! Some powerful work on the deck leaves Namibia with men out wide. The ball finds its way to Bottha, who ignores the man outside and goes over for his seventh international try. Kotze misses the conversion from the right touchline, but the Africans creep five points closer.

Namibia 25 – 39 Fiji

The game has settled into a strange rhythm: Namibia dominate possession, going through the phases with ease, looking commanding at the breakdown, but every time Fiji get the ball in hand they either kick successfully to touch or gain a number of yards in contact. Each has kind of cancelled the other out, with play oscillating a few yards either side of the halfway line.

Quera in  for Talei; Buatava for Kenatale.

Van Wyk has been immense for Namibia at outside centre; he’s been at the centre of everything the Africans have created… apart from Kotze’s amazing goals, that is!

Nailago is on  for Ma’afu.

Both sides are beginning to suffer now, everyone playing like they’re running through treacle… except for Namibia’s full-back Bottha who dummies a clearance, side-steps on onrushing Fijian and passes four more(!) before handing the ball off to a thrilled looking second row.

We’re heading upstairs! It looks like Namibia are in again, with Dames having been literally rolled over the line by his captain, Burger.

“Is it a try?”

Sadly, no. The winger’s denied a try on his debut. Scrum 5.

Defensive ping-pong ensues.

The two De La Harpes are on, for Marais and Jantjies.

Namibia break again through Dames, but Fiji turn the ball over. Nigel Owens spots some misbehaviour, however, and awards the Pacific islanders a penalty. He need a helpful bunt from the post, but it’s another three points.

Namibia 25 – 42 Fiji

One of the Fijian substitutes, Qera, is putting in some huge tackles. He mullers Kotze in midfield, who remains down for a considerable length of time.

While the fly-half’s receiving attention, Nalaga finds space and powers over in the left corner. The TMO confirms it as a try! Bai hooks his conversion over the bar from an improbable angle. Kotze, looking dazed, can only look on from the sidelines. He won’t be returning to the game.

Namibia 25 – 49 Fiji

PEEP! It’s all over.

Namibia 25 – 49 Fiji

Fiji looked ill-disciplined and confused at times, but also produced a handful of irresistible line-breaks that Namibia, for all their commitment, just couldn’t handle.

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