Ireland win but fail to impress
September 9, 2007
Brian O'Driscoll beats the Namibia defence to open the scoring for Ireland
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Ireland laboured to a 32-17 victory against a resilient Namibia in their Pool D clash at Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux. Ireland opened their World Cup with a bonus-point victory but it was a dismal display from Eddie O'Sullivan's side.
Tries for Jacques Nieuwenhuis and Piet van Zyl rewarded Namibia's second-half heroics and by the end it was Ireland who looked the under-prepared part-timers. Brian O'Driscoll, Andrew Trimble and Simon Easterby touched down in the first half while a penalty try awarded by French referee Juel Jutge registered the bonus point.
Jutge also gave substitute Jerry Flannery a controversial late try when replays suggested the Munster hooker failed to ground the ball. The early signs looked ominous for Namibia as Andrew Trimble slipped with ease through midfield but Gordon D'Arcy then dropped the ball and the move broke down.
Namibia back row Jacques Nieuwenhuis pounced on the mistake and steamrollered his up the centre of the pitch to relive the pressure. But Ireland had clearly been sent out with orders to attack from all parts of the pitch and they eased out of their 22 in the fourth minute.
Full-back Girvan Dempsey cantered into space down the left wing and when the ball was recycled O'Driscoll chipped ahead and ran onto his kick. Only Ryan Witbooi could stop him but the Lions centre easily shrugged him off before placing the ball down his head for his 30th Test try.
Ronan O'Gara converted and an early chance for Namibia to slash the deficit went begging when Emile Wessels missed a long-range penalty.O'Gara opted against taking a routine three points, instead going for touch, and the move backfired when Ireland's line-out was shunted out of the 22.
Swift hands still fashioned a chance in the left corner only for Hickie to drop the ball with the line at his mercy. O'Gara took the points that were on offer in the 17th minute as Ireland eased into a 10-0 lead and then set-up a try for Andrew Trimble.
Seeing no-one was at home for Namibia, he took a quick tap penalty and launched a bomb to the right corner and Trimble gathered before touching down. Namibia openside Heino Senekal, a converted second row, limped off as the battering continued. Ireland enjoyed the rare luxury of winning an opposition scrum and once the set-piece had been reset, the impressive Denis Leamy burst into space.
It was the Munster number eight's third eye-catching break and he was clearly relishing facing the creaking Namibian defence. Simon Easterby powered over from close range to complete the move, ensuring Ireland ended an error-strewn passage of play with more points.
Namibia enjoyed their best moment of the half when they shoved the favourites back 15 metres with a rolling maul. They conceded a scrum just yards from the line and when O'Gara failed to clear, they counter-attacked with rousing ferocity. Witbooi and then Jacques Nieuwenhuis sent Irish defenders backwards but after pounding away at the line through the forwards, a mix-up in midfield wasted the good work.
Most of the crowd at the Stade Chaban-Delmas were willing the ball between the posts when Namibia won a penalty on the stroke of half-time and Wessels obliged, giving his side reward for their flurry. Namibia continued to offer dogged resistance as the second half began, but their line was coming under tremendous pressure.
Referee Joel Jutge responded to two collapsed scrums by awarding Ireland a penalty try and the Namibians could have few complaints. The score secured a bonus point but the Irish were struggling to put Namibia away, O'Driscoll dropping a pass after Paul O'Connell had sent him into space.
Heading into the final quarter, it was the Africans who were playing with greater conviction as Heini Bock and another powerful rolling maul did considerable damage. Their momentum told in the 61st minute when Bock slipped through a huge gap in the opposition backline and found Jacques Nieuwenhuis in support.
The big blindside thundered over and Wessels added the conversion to rub Ireland's noses in it. Amazingly Namibia were not done yet, Piet van Zyl touching down just three minutes later with the television match official confirming the score. Wessels nailed the conversion to leave Namibia trailing just 27-17 - but there was still one twist to come.
With four minutes left on the clock, Flannery crossed in the left corner. Jutge immediately awarded the try but replays showed the Munster hooker failed to ground the ball.
Ireland (20) 32
Namibia (3) 17
Ireland: G Dempsey: A Trimble, B O'Driscoll, capt, G D'Arcy, D Hickie; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, R Best, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, S Easterby, D Leamy, D Wallace.
Namibia: T Losper; R Witbooi, B Langenhoven, P van Zyl, H Bock; E Wessels, E Jantjies; K Lensing (captain), H Horn, J du Toit, W Kazombiaze, N Esterhuize, J Nieuwenhuis, H Senekal, J Burger.
Referee: Joel Jutge (FRA)
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