SPAIN won the Windhoek Lager Tri-Nations series following a thrilling come-from-behind 38-37 victory against Namibia on Saturday.
In a see-saw battle, Namibia seemed set for victory when a Theuns Kotze penalty put them 37-35 ahead with a minute remaining. But with the final hooter already having sounded, Spain won a penalty and flyhalf Jaime Nava put over a mammoth kick from the halfway line to complete a dramatic victory.
Namibian captain PJ van Lill could not hide his disappointment after the game.
“I’m very disappointed because we should have easily won this match. We have a few youngsters and in the end their big match temperament did not come through. Its crucial, because you can’t make mistakes in a test match in your own half,” he said.
“We had a lot of young players coming through so that was important, but we wanted to win in front of our home crowd to let the people of Namibia as well as the International Rugby Board see that we are on the right path,” he added.
Namibian coach Danie Vermeulen said the match was there for the taking.
“We are very disappointed with the loss. The game was there for the taking but silly mistakes cost us in the end.”
“There are positives to take from this match, but we don’t want to become good losers. If the test is there for the taking, then you must take it and there are no excuses for that. We will have to look at that because we can’t make excuses after having the match on a plate for us,” he said.
Vermeulen however remained confident that Namibia was on the right track.
“There are some new players who have come into the group who put up their hands and they will come into contention for next year’s World Cup qualifiers, but we should also have some of our foreign based professionals back by then. If we can just get our best team to play I think we will definitely make it to the next World Cup, ” he said.
In a tightly contested match, both teams scored three tries, while Kotze added 22 points with the boot for Namibia and Javier Carrion 20 points for Spain. Nava’s final penalty made the difference in the end, however.
Namibia should have won the match, but some poor options and poor defence saw Spain turn around a 26-17 deficit at halftime to take a 35-29 lead midway through the second half.
Namibia got off to a good start and after two early penalties by Kotze, fullback Justin Nel raced through for the first try after a strong run by captain PJ van Lill.
Spain soon struck back with a try by right wing Matias Tudela who broke through two poor tackles, but Kotze stretched Namibia’s lead to 19-11 with two more penalties.
When left wing Sergio de la Harpe dotted down a grubber kick by Eugene Jantjies and Kotze added the conversion, Namibia were well in command at 26-11, but indiscipline saw Spain coming back into the match.
The game however took a dramatic turn just before halftime when PJ van Lill had to leave the field with an injured knee, while Namibian prop Andre Schlechter was yellow carded for an indiscretion. Carrion added two penalties in quick succession as Namibia took a 26-17 lead into the break.
Spain pressed home their numerical advantage early in the second half as Carrion added a penalty and when eighthman Lionel Prado went over for a converted try, Spain took the lead for the first time at 27-26.
Carrion and Kotze traded penalties before Spain scrumhalf Pablo Feijoo slipped through some poor tackling to dive over for a try to put Spain 35-29 ahead.
Namibia struck back through a fine try by Johan Tromp and when Carrion was yellow-carded for an indiscretion with three minutes remaining, the initiative swung back to Namibia.
Kotze’s penalty attempt bounced off the post, but when Spain were once again penalised a minute later he succeeded to put Namibia 37-35 ahead.
But Spain had the final say when they won a penalty in injury time that Nava coolly converted from the halfway line.