Welwitschias blitzed by slick Pumas – The Namibian

THE Windhoek Draught Welwitschias suffered a rude awakening when they lost 81-8 to the Airlink Pumas in the inaugural Airlink Cup on Saturday.

The Pumas were in a different class, and with their powerful pack taking control early on and their speedy backs finishing off with precision, they ran in a total of 13 tries in a one-sided romp.

Pumas’ speedy right wing Sebastian de Klerk led the way with a hat-trick of tries; lock and captain Shane Kirkwood scored two; and prop Simon Raw, hooker Llewellyn Classen, flanker Andre Fouche, left wing Lundi Msenge, flyhalf Brandon Thomson, replacement hooker Eduan Swart, replacement fullback Giovan Snyman and replacement prop Etienne Janeke scored one try each.

Snyman and Thomson added three conversions each and Tinus de Beer two.

The Welwitschias could only score one try through centre Hillian Beukes.

The Pumas opened their account after only two minutes when they won a turnover at a ruck and quickly sent De Klerk over in the corner for his first try, while Raw put them 12-0 ahead when he crashed over from a maul.

Welwitschias flyhalf Andre van der Berg hit the crossbar with his first penalty attempt, but soon made amends when his second from 45m went over to reduce the deficit to 12-3.

The Pumas immediately struck back through tries by flanker Andre Fouche and when left wing Lundi Musenge turned on the pace to go over they went 24-3 ahead.

The Pumas dominated the scrums pushing the Welwitschias back for metres at a time, while they also won a few penalties at the set-piece, and when flyhalf Brandon Thomson went over for a converted try they took a 31-3 halftime lead.

The flying De Klerk went over for his second try shortly after halftime, and when flanker Andre Fouche touched down from a forward maul they went 43-3 ahead.

De Klerk completed his hat-trick after a 50m run down the right wing, while lock Shane Kirkwood went over after an expansive attack involving forwards and backs.

Replacement hooker Eduan Swart crashed over from a lineout to put the Pumas 60-3 ahead, but the Welwitschias finally gave the home fans something to cheer about when centre Hillian Beukes went over in the left hand corner after several attacking phases where hooker Wicus Jacobs was prominent.

That’s all the Welwitschias could muster, though, and the Pumas soon regained the momentum, with Kirkwood scoring his second try, while replacement prop Etienne Janeke and replacement fullback Giovan Snyman scored a try each.

Despite the one-sided defeat, Welwitschias coach Chrysander Botha said it had been a great learning curve.

“It’s just a massive learning curve for our boys and it was great that we got this opportunity. I think we had a good training week and we had a good plan in place, but the Pumas brought a lot of physicality and they are not the Currie Cup champions without reason. They are well-oiled in what they do, they ran away with it in the end and I think our defence really let us down in those last 20 minutes,” he said.

“We are building up to the Mzansi Challenge where we will obviously face a different type of opposition, but there are no excuses, we’ll take it on the chin and it’s games like this where you learn what your shortcomings are and that’s the most important,” he added.

The Welwitschias will open their campaign in the Mzansi Challenge against the Border Bulldogs in East London on 25 March and Botha said he was optimistic about their chances.

“We will obviously face different opposition in the Mzansi Challenge, but we’ll still need to come out every weekend and play well. At the moment we are assembling a team, we’ve got a group of individuals now, but the next two weeks will be key in our preparations, moving forward. I think we will be able to cause an upset or two and I’m hoping that the boys will back themselves and follow the plan and stick to the system, because that will lead us to victory at the end of the day,” he said.

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