Namibia clinch Nations Cup crown
June 20, 2010
Namibia scrum-half Eugene Jantjies takes the attack to Georgia © IRB
Namibia captured the IRB Nations Cup title for the first time with an impressive 26-21 victory over Georgia at the Arcul de Triumpf Stadium in Bucharest.
Following their hard-fought victory on the final day of this year's competition, Namibia faced an anxious wait to see if Italy 'A' would pip them to the crown but they lost out to hosts Romania 27-22 in dramatic fashion to hand the title to the Africans. Last year's tournament champions Scotland 'A' finished winless after the Argentina Jaguars produced their best display to beat them 33-13.
Namibia maintained their 100% record by grinding out a win against fellow Rugby World Cup qualifiers Georgia. The European side led 13-0 at the break thanks largely to some excellent defence and looked set to achieve a fine win. But the game appeared to swing with injuries to their captain Tedo Zibzibadze, who departed with a dislocated elbow, and centre Revaz Giauri, who played the rest of the match with a shoulder injury.
Namibia rallied and notched two tries through lock Heinz Koll and another via their increasingly influential fullback Chrysander Botha who also kicked three penalties. Scrum-half Eugene Jantjies slotted the final conversion to put his side on course for a famous victory.
Namibia captain Jacques Burger was delighted with the result but was disappointed to miss the bonus point. "I'm happy with the win though we would have wanted to play better and get the four tries," he said. "We knew from the beginning it would be hard and physical and we decided to keep playing. In the last 40 minutes we started to close the gap and capitalise on their mistakes and that was the game."
Coach Johan Diertgaardt added, "This is not the end, it's just the beginning as this team has a lot of potential to become a great team. We are thankful for what we have."
Romania beat Italy 'A' in the last game of the day to delight the home crowd and hand the IRB Nations Cup title to Namibia. Tries from Cezar Popescu and Catalin Fercu along with 17 points from the boot of fly-half Dan Dumbrava carried the Oaks to victory. The Italians led 17-14 at the break thanks to a try from Alberto Sgarbi and three penalties and a conversion from No.10 Luciano Orquera but two further penalties after the break were not enough to propel them to victory and the Nations Cup title.
Inspired by their senior side's series win over the Pumas, Scotland 'A' desperately wanted to finish the tournament with a flourish but in the end it was the Argentina Jaguars who stole the show thanks to two well taken tries by fullback Mauricio Guidone and equally significantly by the boot of both Santiago Gonzales Iglesias and Nicholas Snachez, who between them landed the remaining 25 points.
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