Rugby World Cup 1999
Fiji too strong for Namibia
October 1, 1999
Fly-half Waisale Serevi kicked 22 points for Fiji
© Getty Images
Fiji produced an uneven performance in their opening World Cup match in Beziers but it was still way too good for World Cup newcomers Namibia as they ran out 67-18 winners in their Pool C match.
The Africans, who are made up of fanatical amateurs, mostly farmers who travel hundreds of kilometres to train, had much to be proud of, scoring two tries to Fiji's nine - Fijian fly-half Waisale Serevi scoring 22 points.
They even had the cheek to open the scoring against the 1987 quarter-finalists, who were booed roundly by the crowd after electing to kick a penalty in the final minute, but were given a lesson in attacking rugby for most of the match - trailing 43-6 at halftime.
The Fijians displayed their traditional flowing rugby although they were fortunate to score nine tries, including a terrific brace from winger Fero Lasagavibau, as the third one by Emori Katalau was given despite him clearly dropping the ball before crossing the line.
Namibia, who made a bright opening, were given the first opportunity to score when referee David McHugh awarded a penalty against Fiji - but fullback Leandre van Dyk put it just wide of the posts in the third minute.
He made no mistake three minutes later after Fiji, who had not got out of their half, were penalised again.
However, the Fijians hit back immediately as 23-year-old Lasagavibau touched down after a freeflowing move from one side of the pitch to the other capitalising on the Namibians naivety in defence, who had tried to run the ball from their own try line. Fly-half Waisale Serevi converted.
Fiji, who traded penalties with the Namibians after that, extended their lead when they scored an even better try a quarter-of-an hour into the match when sevens legend Serevi, who was preferred to the more conservative Nicky Little, came into the line twice to create the overlap and release winger Imanueli Tikomaimakogai, who touched down in the corner.
The third try was the one that shouldn't have been as Katalau stole it at a line-out two metres out but as he dived for the line plainly lost control of the ball, but the unsighted McHugh awarded it.
There was no doubt about Fiji's fourth, however, as another smooth move down the backline ended with flanker Setareki Tawake scoring.
They followed it with a fifth and with the Namibians being run ragged Lasagavibau rounded it off with a cheeky catch over the opposing winger's shoulder to touch down.
The Namibians, who had beaten off the challenges of previous World Cup qualifiers Cote d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe to get here, again made the brightest start to the second-half and were rewarded after constant pressure with a try by lock Heino Sennekal.
The 24-year-old, playing in his 22nd international dived over from a ruck for his second try for his country inspiring joyous celebrations from his bench.
The Fijians, however, once again were stung into action and their Japanese-based number eight Alivereti Moceletu came storming into the backline after the Namibians had lost the ball to touch down.
However, the African side came back again to score their second try as the inspirational van Dyk burst towards the line and delivered the ball to prop Mario Jacobs to go over.
In a second half characterised by end to end rugby the Fijians responded with a try as captain Greg Smith, who has transformed the islanders scrum since assuming the role of hooker three years ago, took advantage of the Africans not paying attention by taking a quick penalty and touching down.
The Fijians grabbed another one in injury-time through Jacob Rauluni to give the score a more respectable look than they perhaps deserved.