Preview: Namibia v Tonga

Date published: September 28 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Namibia_v_Tonga_preview_RWC

Namibia and Tonga will both be desperate for victory when they face off in their Pool C clash at Sandy Park in Exeter on Tuesday.

Desperate sides are usually dangerous ones, so don't be surprised if this is a high-scoring affair as both countries go in search of their first triumph at the tournament.

Tonga were on the wrong end of a 17-10 result to Georgia in their opener at Kingsholm, and Namibia suffered a 58-14 drubbing at the hands of defending champions New Zealand at the Olympic Stadium in London.

Before the start of the tournament, Tonga had high hopes of finishing in third place in their group, at least, as it would have secured them qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

But that defeat to Georgia has dented those hopes and they are now fully focused on finishing their remaining matches on a high.

Fly-half Kurt Morath, who will start on the bench in this clash, highlighted the importance of this fixture to the Ikale Tahi and said they have moved on from their loss to Georgia.

"With the tournament being so short, we just had to flush that away and start again really and move on to Namibia," he said.

"The day after the game, we did a bit of a review, and it’s all about Namibia now.”

Like Georgia, Morath is expecting Namibia's to pose a huge threat. Despite their defeat to New Zealand, the Welwitchias' forwards were competitive in their opener.

“Namibia are forward-orientated and they’ve got some big boys in there," added Morath.

"We will have to really be on our game, up front. The tier two nations now are catching up.

"The level is improving with professionalism. Everyone’s getting better, so it’s not surprising that the gap’s closing up a bit."

For Namibia, victory will be significant as it will be their first ever triump at the Rugby World Cup.

Despite being nine places below Tonga in the rankings, Welwitchias head coach Phil Davies feels his side can cause an upset.

"The Tongans have a good rest and there is a lot of emotion flying round their squad," he said.

"It will be physical. They are ranked eleventh in the world and we are ranked 20. That's a huge difference and it will be a massive, massive challenge but we are relishing it."

Davies believes he got his selection right for this clash and expects his replacements to have a huge say in the game's outcome.

"It's a case of managing the squad and keeping people fresh," he added.

"We want some consistency and plenty of impact off the bench. Our selection policy is a little different from how it has been but we think it will help bring us that consistency.

"It's a short turnaround after the New Zealand game. After that game there was inevitable excitement but this is a level-headed group and while we take a lot of heart from our display last week, I was a bit disappointed that we didn't impose ourselves earlier.

"But the All Blacks have beaten a lot of tier-one sides by 50 points and we have a lot to be pleased about."

Ones to Watch:

For Namibia: The Welwitchias' inside centre Johan Deysel came off second best to Sonny Bill Williams in Namibia's tournament opener against New Zealand but he impressed by crossing for a memorable try. More of the direct running, which secured him that five-pointer, should make him a handful for the Tongan defence.

For Tonga: Keep an eye on blindside flank Sione Kalamafoni, who is one of the stalwarts for Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership. Kalamafoni was one of a few forwards who stood his ground to Georgia's physicality and he will look to continue where he left off in that encounter.

Head-to-head: The battle between the two number eights should be one of the highlights of this clash. Namibia's Renaldo Bothma enjoys the physical nature of the game and will look to get his side over the gainline with his strong carries while Tonga's Viliami Ma'afu is a shrewd operator who knows all the tricks of the trade and thrives in open spaces. Both will look to give their sides momentum from the base of the scrum.

Previous results: 1997: Tonga won 20-14 in Windhoek

Prediction: This should be an entertaining clash as both sides are rank outsiders who will be giving their all to avoid the wooden spoon in their pool. It will be a close affair but Tonga will win by six points!

The teams:

Namibia: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Johan Tromp, 13 Danie Van Wyk, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Russel Van Wyk, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9 Eneill Buitendag, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Rohan Kitshoff, 6 Jacques Burger (c), 5 Tjiuee Uanivi, 4 Janco Venter, 3 Johannes Coetzee, 2 Torsten Van Jaarsveld, 1 Casper Viviers.
Replacements: 16 Louis van der Westhuizen, 17 Johnny Redelinghuys, 18 AJ De Klerk, 19 Tinus Du Plessis, 20 PJ Van Lill, 21 Damian Stevens, 22 Darryl De La Harpe, 23 David Philander.

Tonga: 15 Vungakoto Lilo, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Siale Piutau (co-captain), 12 Sione Piukala, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Latiume Fosita, 9 Sonatane Takulua, 8 Viliami Ma'afu (co-captain), 7 Jack Ram, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Joseph Tuineau, 4 Hale T Pole, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Paula Ngauamo, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Halani Aulika, 19 Tukulua Lokotui, 20 Opeti Fonua, 21 Samisoni Fisilau, 22 Kurt Morath, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Date: <brTuesday, September 29
Venue: Sandy Park, Exeter
Kick-off: 16:45 local (15:45 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock (New Zealand), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand) </br

<brBy David Skippers</br

COMMENTS