NAIROBI, Kenya, April 21 – Nathan Ockhuizen scored a last gasp try to help Namibia beat hosts Kenya 22-17 in their Pool A match of the International Rugby Board (IRB) Junior World Rugby Trophy on Tuesday.
Kenya led 12-10 at half time through thrilling tries from winger Collins Omae and flanker Joel Omer as the hosts dominated the first half with scintillating attacking rugby.
Namibian flyhalf Mahco Prinsloo opened the scoring with a well struck penalty five minutes into the match to give his side a 3-0 lead.
The Africa Junior Champions had no answer to Kenya’s stoic defence which repelled wave after wave of enemy attacks with the centre partnership of Patrice Agunda and Joseph Abala doing their country great service in the midfield channel.
Both centres showed their worth in attack as well with a devastating scissors move that parted the Namibian defence like the Red Sea.
Abala raced clear and chipped the ball ahead for Omae to chase but he was beaten to the ball by the covering Namibian defence.
The Kenyan back three was also in inspired form which was evident in Kenya’s first try.
Namibian captain Robert Herridge’s clearance kick was gathered by Kenyan fullback Oscar Otindo who chipped over the advancing defence, recollected and offloaded in the tackle to Omae who went on a scorching arching run to score in the corner for a 5-3 lead.
With captain Eric Kioko leading for the front, the Kenya forwards tore in to their opponents with a series of drives that laid the platform for flyhalf Ken Andola to attempt a drop goal but his effort went wide.
Namibia continued to forage in to Kenyan territory and we rewarded with a try by Prinsloo who dived over for a converted try to lead 10-5 after a good set move from the scrum by his back row forwards.
Buoyed by a partisan home crowd, Kenya regained the lead soon after with an intricate move orchestrated by Andola.
From the line out, Andola slipped an inside ball to Wanjala who passed to the supporting Agunda who stood well in the tackle to offload to the rampaging Omer who still had alot to do to fend off Herridge and cross over to put Kenya ahead at half time.
Omae crossed the line soon after halftime after a fantastic passage of play from his forwards.
From the kickoff, Kioko and fellow prop Ryan Musumba spearheaded phase after phase of Kenyan pressure down the near touchline sucking in Namibian defenders.
The ball was quickly spun wide to the waiting Kenya Harlequin speedster to extend Kenya’s lead to 17-10.
That score spurred Namibia into the action as they started to control the ball better than they did in the first half and put Mitch Ocholla’s side under pressure in the set piece.
Namibia enjoyed a spell of pressure in the shadow of the Kenyan posts which eventually resulted into a well worked try Russel Van Wyk who came off his wing to score in the corner to narrow Kenya’s lead to 17-15.
The assault on Kenya’s line continued unabated but the home defence stood well in the face of the bruising Namibian forwards twice holding them up after they went over.
The rain ruined what was an entertaining game of rugby with handling errors plaguing the last twenty minutes of the encounter.
Kenya managed to regain the dominance they had in the first half but the wet weather put paid to their efforts with Ockhuizen’s chip and chase from his own half with two minutes to go in the game proving to be the dagger in Kenyan hearts.
In Tuesday’s other results, United States thrashed Cayman Islands 64-15, Romania comprehensively beat Papua New Guinea 50-17 and Chile underlined their status as tournament favourites by beating Korea 49-21.