September 29, 2019 / 1:36 AM / 19 days ago

Battered and bruised, coach Davies hails courageous Namibia

TOYOTA CITY, Japan (Reuters) - Phil Davies hailed the courage of his Namibia side in the wake of their 57-3 Rugby World Cup Pool B loss to South Africa on Saturday as he steadies for an even bigger challenge against New Zealand on Oct. 6.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool B - South Africa v Namibia - City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota, Japan - September 28, 2019 Namibia head coach Phil Davies talks to Namibia assistant coach Dale McItosh during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Matthew Childs

The Namibia coach admitted his players were battered and bruised by the Springbok encounter, but adds there were positives to take out of the game after they had conceded 192 points in their previous two matches against their heavyweight neighbours.

“The scoreline suggests we are improving,” the former Wales international said. “We played with a lot of courage. I was disappointed when we turned the ball over that we kicked the ball away quite quickly. I would have liked to see us play a bit more.

“We were under a lot of pressure at the breakdown. It’s an area we need to fix. Overall we are progressing. Our lineout, against arguably one of the best lineouts in the world, coped well. There are lots of positives and that’s what we have to take out of it.”

Namibia’s task was not helped by yellow cards for number eight Adriaan Booysen and replacement prop Aranos Coetzee, but that allowed them to test their 14-man defence against the Boks.

“We’re pretty sore with the effort we put in. It was a tough day, but the courage our players showed, particularly defensively, especially when we went down to 14 men, was fantastic. We coped really well with it.”

Next up is New Zealand in Tokyo and then a meeting with Canada, which will give Namibia the opportunity for a first ever World Cup win, which would be a true sign of their progress.

Davies is realistic about where Namibian rugby stands, but believes they can move forward at some pace if they put the right building blocks in place.

“It’s continuity of process which we’ve had over the past four years. We haven’t got a professional game in Namibia and at the moment the infrastructure cannot sustain that.

“If we keep progressing in the next (four-year) cycle like we have in the last one we’ll see improvements. Our performance standards are improving, our playing group is younger and progress is being made.”

Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Stephen Coates

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