Uruguay made the most of three yellow cards for Namibia to win 36-26 and dash the Africans’ hopes of a first Rugby World Cup victory today.
A great 14-0 start had Namibia dreaming of ending a record 25-match losing run in the tournament but three players sent to the sin-bin in the second half helped Uruguay to wipe out a 20-12 halftime deficit.
One of the yellows to replacement prop Des Sethie was upgraded to red with 17 minutes to go but the game finished 14 on 14 after Uruguay received a late yellow.
Uruguay posted only its fourth ever win at the Rugby World Cup.
Despite playing a fourth game in 18 days, Namibia made a quickfire start with some poor play by Uruguay contributing.
Namibia stunned its opponent by taking the lead with barely a minute on the clock. An errant Uruguay pass was gladly intercepted by Gerswin Mouton, who sprinted 60 meters unchallenged to dive between the posts. Tiaan Swanepoel had the easiest of conversions.
Namibia pulled further away in the 11th when it churned through the phases and Richard Hardwick put wing JC Greyling away to race down the left flank for an easy finish in the corner. Swanepoel added the extras from an acute angle.
A shellshocked Uruguay, playing a third match in a more comfortable 14 days, got on the board in the 19th after it battered the line and flyhalf Felipe Etcheverry offloaded to fullback Baltazar Amaya to barge over.
Namibia stretched its lead further with an easy Swanepoel penalty then Uruguay received a very kickable penalty but Etcheverry kicked for a corner lineout. That proved the right decision as Los Teros mauled and the backs joined in to drive German Kessler over.
Etcheverry converted from the touchline but Swanepoel added another penalty shortly before halftime, and another at the start of the second period for 23-12.
However, tighthead prop Johan Coetzee was sin-binned in the 48th for collapsing a scrum for a third time and Uruguay exploited the man advantage to pour on two converted tries.
Amaya grabbed his second when he rounded Greyling and dived over scrumhalf Damian Stevens to plant the ball in the right corner. Then Uruguay took the lead for the first time in the match in spectacular fashion. Scrumhalf Santiago Arata picked up loose ball and stepped two defenders on a weaving run to the posts for a stunning solo try.
After 55 minutes, Uruguay led by three at 26-23.
Coetzee returned to the field but matters got worse for Namibia when captain Tjiuee Uanivi was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle and, moments later, teammate Desiderius Sethie followed him after catching Bautista Basso in the face with his forearm.
Both were reviewed and Sethie’s card was upgraded to red, the second red for Namibia in this tournament.
Uruguay made the most of the numbers when a crossfield kick by Felipe Berchesi found Basso for a simple finish. Berchesi converted.
Swanepoel’s fourth penalty and sixth successful goalkick lifted Namibia within seven points for a grandstand finish but it evaporated when Berchesi slotted a penalty to deny Namibia a losing bonus point.
Uruguay replacement flanker Eric Dosantos became the fourth player yellow-carded for another upright tackle on Adriaan Booysen.
Uruguay’s players must put the disappointment of defeat to Italy behind them if they are to leave the Rugby World Cup with at least one win.
Uruguay had made no secret of the fact it was targeting Italy and Namibia to record two wins in the tournament for the first time in its history.
Leading the Azzurri 17-7 after a memorable first half last Wednesday, Uruguay appeared on course but Los Teros faded mentally and physically to lose 38-17.
“We finished the match dead, it was a long day and we are turning the page quickly,” forwards coach Oscar Durán said. “Obviously we are hurting. It is a moment that we have to pass and hope it passes as quickly as possible.
“We worked hard for this match and made mistakes that we cannot make at this level. We are sad, anguished, going through this hurt to immediately think about Namibia.”
Coach Esteban Meneses has made four changes to his starting lineup for Wednesday’s match against Namibia, which was crushed 96-0 by France last week for a record-extending 25th straight loss at the World Cup.
Prop Diego Arbelo and No. 8 Carlos Deus replace Ignacio Peculo and Manuel Diana, while Bautista Basso comes in for Gaston Mieres on the right wing and Felipe Arcos Perez will make his World Cup debut in place of Tomas Inciarte at center.
Uruguay beat Namibia 26-18 when they met in August and there are nine players in Los Teros’ starting lineup that featured in that match.
Namibia also starts with nine players from the match after coach Allister Coetzee made eight changes following the drubbing by France.
Alcino Izaacs, Tiaan Swanepoel, Damian Stevens, Richard Hardwick, Tiaan De Klerk, Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Jason Benade and Tjiuee Uanivi all come in, with the latter named as captain following Johan Deysel’s red card against France.
Cliven Loubser moves from flyhalf to the right wing, while Prince Gaoseb switches from No. 8 to flanker.
Prop Johan Coetzee and wing Gerswin Mouton, who scored the team’s only try of the tournament, are the only players to have started all four matches for Namibia at the World Cup.
Uruguay impressed in its World Cup opener, a 27-12 defeat to France. With New Zealand also to play in Pool A, the match against Namibia is Los Teros’ best opportunity to turn the plaudits it has received into a positive result.
“Winning the next game would be the confirmation of the good World Cup we are having,” Durán said.
Played five: Uruguay 4-1. Most recent Uruguay won 26-18 in August
Uruguay $1.05, Namibia $8.50
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Uruguay 25 Namibia 22
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