Bulldogs rip away late win

Andrew Poolman
The Windhoek Draught Welwitschias will look back at plenty of missed opportunities after they narrowly lost their opening match 21-26 in the Mzansi Challenge against the Border Bulldogs on Saturday.

The South African provincial series, combining the Currie Cup first-division sides with an international flavour of invited sides such as Kenya Simbas, the Zimbabwe Goshawks and the San Clemente Rhinos from Mexico and USA, is expected to live up to its reputation as a testing ground for the readiness of Namibia’s local amateurs for the international test arena – leading up to the World Cup in France later this year.

However, much tougher tests will be coming up soon. The Eastern Cape team clearly lacks the professionalism and conditioning to mix it with the top contenders – as their recent losing record suggests.

Work to be done

While the Welwitschias’ lineout worked well, their driving play and scrumming mostly came off second-best.

On Saturday in East London’s Mdantsane, the Namibians fell behind 0-6 early when border flyhalf Aphile Stemele hit the mark with two penalties.

However, from the second kick-off, his counterpart André van der Berg made a clean linebreak through the middle and sent inside centre Danco Burger to score under the posts for Van der Berg to convert (7-6).

The Bulldogs retook the lead when they worked leftwing Sakhe Dingile into space for a try in the corner, which Stemele converted (7-13).

The first half ended with one more try added by each side. The Bulldogs’ score grew to 18 when a flowing move brought them in position for prop Siba Mnkani to crash over from close range.

Lost opportunities

A mistake in the home side’s backline led to a ball bouncing loose for Welwitschias scrumhalf Jacques Theron to collect and sprint through for a try, which Van der Berg converted.

Border’s 18-14 half-time lead were wiped out after just two minutes, as Van der Berg attacked the gain line from a scrum feed and sent leftwing Lloyd Jacobs clean through to score a converted try.

As the Namibians started bringing replacements on, the Bulldogs added a Stemele penalty, followed by a try through a lineout maul.

Five points behind at 21-26 and with time running out, the Welwitschias almost took advantage of two late penalties to escape from their own half and almost press for a winning try, but they were denied on the goalline and had to settle for a losing bonus point.

• Coach Chrysander Botha and his team, captained by Prince !Gaoseb, will now prepare for their first home match this Saturday against the South Western District Eagles.

The Southern Cape team have two wins so far (against Border as well as Saturday’s visitors, Eastern Province, by 36-23), and one away loss against the Valke (38-44).

• Last week, the Goshawks from Zimbabwe informed SA Rugby that they wouldn’t be able to fulfil their commitments in the first three rounds of the competition due to financial constraints.

According to the competition rules, it means their opponents in these games – the Leopards, Eastern Province and Boland Kavaliers – will each receive five log points, while the points’ difference for the cancelled matches will be calculated at the end of the competition.


Allgemeine Zeitung 2023-06-07

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