NAMIBIA returns to action for the first time in nearly a month when they take on Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in the Africa Gold Cup on Saturday.
Despite being out of action for so long, Namibia will go into the match as the strong favourites after an impressive campaign so far, while Zimbabwe have failed to deliver the goods.
Namibia have won all three their matches to date in great fashion and are now comfortably at the top of the log on 15 points, having picked up a bonus point in each of their victories.
They beat Uganda 55-6 in their first match on 16 June and followed that up a week later with a record 118-0 victory against Tunisia, which beat their previous highest Test victory of 112-0 against Madagascar in 2002.
Namibia were on the rampage and on 30 June they put Morocco to the sword with a 63-7 victory in Casablanca.
They have been in a class of their own and playing an exciting brand of attacking, running rugby by both forwards and backs, they have amassed 236 points and only conceded 13 for a points aggregate of 78-4 per match.
In the process they have ran in 36 tries with wing JC Greyling leading the list with five tries, while wing Lesley Klim and fullback Chrysander Botha have scored four each, and centre Johan Deysel and flanker Janco Venter three each.
Fly half Cliven Loubser has also had a field day, scoring 50 points with the boot that includes 20 conversions and two tries.
In the process new players have also started to make their mark which bodes well for the future as the competition for places in the starting line-up picks up.
Amongst the backs, players like Janry du Toit, Justin Newman, Damian Stevens and PW Steenkamp have put in some fine performances to strengthen their credentials, while young forwards like Janco Venter, Max Katjijeko, Obert Nortje and LP van der Westhuizen have also been in fine form. Especially Venter has caught the eye with his rampaging runs and is currently joint-third on the try scoring list with three tries.
By contrast, Zimbabwe have had a poor campaign and are currently fourth on the log with three points. They are yet to win a match, having drawn their opening encounter 23-23 against Morocco and then suffering successive defeats to Kenya and Tunisia.
They had a great chance to beat Kenya on 30 June, as they held a comfortable 33-17 lead at half time, but Kenya staged a great comeback to win the match 45-36.
Against Tunisia they also relinquished a 14-5 lead early in the second half to slump to an embarrassing 18-14 defeat which put an end to their World Cup hopes.
On current form, Namibia will therefore be the big favourites to win the match, but they should not underestimate Zimbabwe, especially taking recent history into account.
In the corresponding match last year in Windhoek, Namibia also started as the strong favourites, but Zimbabwe nearly shocked them with a passionate performance.
Zimbabwe gave the home side a rude awakening as they took a 23-7 ahead early in the second half, but Namibia fought back strongly to reduce the deficit, before a late try by Johann Tromp gave them a 31-26 victory.
Elizma Theron of Namibia Rugby Limited yesterday said the Namibian team, which will leave for Bulawayo via Johannesburg on Friday, will only be announced on Wednesday night.
Via The Namibian