New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: So, So Close ... Spain Snatches Last Gasp Victory

Windhoek — Scrumhalf Jaime Nava broke the hearts of many local rugby fans when his last-minute penalty kick earned Spain a hard-fought 38-37 victory over hosts Namibia in an entertaining final of the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations Rugby Tournament at the Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.

It took hosts Namibia just under 10 minutes to announce their intentions when the Welwitschias took a 6-point lead via the educated boot of scrumhalf Theuns 'Wors' Kotze. However, the visitors were not to be outdone and reduced the deficit through Javier Carrion's well struck penalty kick (6-3).

Three minutes later, fullback Justine Nel stretched Namibia's lead when he dotted down, but the Spaniards were quick to respond via Matias Tudela's try (11-8) before the hosts regained momentum through Kotze's three-pointer (14-8).

As the match wore on, Carrion's penalty was cancelled out by Sergio De La Harpe's grounder which was duly goaled by Kotze before the lethal boot of Carrion added to the tally with a pair of beautifully taken penalties to propel the marauding Spaniards within breathing space of the nervy Namibians. Halftime score: Namibia 26-17 Spain.

With 9 minutes gone on the clock from the restart, Spain scored a try through burly No 8 Lionel Pardo and Carrion's successful attempt from the resultant conversion followed by another three-pointer, complemented by Pablo Fejoo's try, interrupted by Kotze's penalty, lifted the visitors six points above the hosts on the scoreboard (35-29).

Winger Johannes Tromp gave the Welwitschias some glimmer of hope when he grounded the ball in the far right corner after some fine work by his team mates. Kotze's attempt from the resultant conversion missed the target (34-35)

With time ticking by, Kotze had a chance to wrap up the match but his poorly executed penalty from within striking range struck the upright before bouncing back into play - much to the disappointment of the thousands of Namibian supporters.

Kotze atoned for his miss by adding to his tally from a penalty (37-35). Wors was made to pay dearly for his earlier miss when his opposite number Jaime Nava stepped up to take over the kicking duties from the fatigued Carrion.

The Spanish flyhalf kept his nerve and dispatched the oval ball neatly between the posts from almost the halfway line with the last kick of the match to give the Spaniards a well deserved 38-37 narrow win over the hosts in what turned out to be an exciting final.

Overall, Spain dominated most facets of the action-packed match and was the more aggressive, even though the hosts finished the stronger of the two sides.

The weeklong Tri-Nations also included Zimbabwe, who failed to win a single match in their two matches against hosts Namibia and Spain.

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