ZIMBABWE’S hopes of qualifying for next year’s Rugby World Cup suffered a major blow as Namibia maintained their dominance over Sables with a hard-fought 24-20 win in a nail-biting Rugby World Cup qualifying match in Madagascar yesterday.
Namibia . . . . (10) 24
Zimbabwe . . (17) 20
It was the Namibians’ seventh win on the trot since 2001 over the Sables, who now have a mountain to climb to qualify for the first World Cup since 1991.
The Sables, who were yet again dominated in the forwards department, lost their way late in the second half when the Namibians scored unanswered tries.
Two converted first-half tries by fullback Tangai Nemadire and a penalty by fly-half Guy Cronje ensured the Sables went for the break with slender 17-10 lead over the Namibians, who replied with a converted try of their own and a penalty.
Another penalty by Cronje early in the second half gave the Sables more breathing space as they stretched their lead to 10 points.
However, that would be the Sables’ last points of the match as the Namibians seized control of the match thereafter with their heavier pack of forwards engineering two well worked tries from mauls.
The only consolation for Zimbabwe was that they came out of the encounter with a bonus point for losing within seven points which takes their points tally to six after beating Madagascar 57-22 in the first match on Saturday.
Namibia, who needed to beat Zimbabwe by a big score to remain in contention for a place at next year’s World Cup, remained below Zimbabwe on five points following their surprise 22-29 defeat to Kenya on Saturday.
Zimbabwe’s defeat came as a boost for Kenya and will now need a bonus point win against Kenya in their last round-robin match at the same venue on Sunday to stand any chance of qualifying.