Namibia: Gutsy Namibia Go Down Fighting

Namibia lost the battle, but won the respect of rugby fans around the world with a courageous performance against New Zealand's All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo on Sunday.

The All Blacks eventually completed a comprehensive 71-9 victory, running in 11 tries to none, but for a while in the first half, Namibia stunned the world champions with a passionate and committed display.

Namibia even took the lead when scrum half Damian Stevens put over a penalty after only two minutes, and although New Zealand soon went ahead through a try by wing Sevu Reece, Namibia threw caution to the wind as they attacked at every opportunity.

Competing at the break downs, Namibia set up numerous attacking phases and nearly scored a try after a fine break by Johan Deysel and PJ van Lill, but New Zealand went 10-3 ahead when Anton Lienert-Brown sliced through the backline to go over for a converted try.

Back came Namibia, with Prince !Gaoseb and Helarius Kisting shining with an impulsive attack, while Stevens reduced the deficit to 10-9 with two excellent penalties.

The All Blacks suffered a further blow when prop Nepo Laulala was sin-binned for a foul tackle and after 30 minutes, Namibia were trailing by a single point and taking the game to the world champions.

That's as good as it got, though, as New Zealand steadily pulled away.

Prop Angus Ta'avo went over for a converted try after sustained pressure and just before half time fullback Ben Smith dived over to put thew All Blacks 24-9 ahead at the break.

New Zealand asserted their dominance early in the second half as prop Joe Moody went over after only one minute, while Lienert-Brown scored his second try five minutes later after a great break by Jordi Barrett.

By now New Zealand were well in control and steadily pulled away with regular tries.

Sevu Reece went over for his second try after a quick backline attack, while lock Sam Whitelock crashed over after sustained pressure by the forwards as New Zealand stretched their lead to 52-9 with 25 minutes remaining.

Namibia kept on attacking, building up 14 continuous phases on one occasion, but they couldn't break through and New Zealand went further ahead when Smith dived over for his second try after a great backhand pass by Brad Weber.

Two more tries in the final stages by Jordi Barrett and TJ Perenara completed a comprehensive 71-9 victory for the All Blacks, but Namibia had earned the respect of the world champions.

"Full credit to them, they were very, very committed and they put us under all sorts of pressure early on," New Zealand captain Sam Whitelock said after the match.

"We gave away points and they took shots at goal and applied pressure that way. So once we settled down and stopped giving away penalties we got into our game," he added.

All Blacks centre Lienert-Brown also commended Namibia on a fine performance.

"Huge respect to Namibia. They came out really hard, pushed us, especially in that first half and we had to dig deep to get some points on the board," he said.

"They managed to break us a few times, but it's awesome to see the boys scramble back and not let them get a try," he added.

Namibia coach Phil Davies, meanwhile, praised his players on a courageous performance.

"I'm very proud of the effort we put in, particularly with our ball retention and line breaks in the first half. We knew we were playing against the best team in the competition, the current champions, but we gave it all we could. I couldn't ask any more of our players and we're very proud of them. The scoreboard looks a bit painful, but there was lots to take out of the match.

"To play against New Zealand or at the World Cup is a fantastic opportunity and challenge. That's what we talked about. Taking on the challenge and embracing the opportunity," he added.

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