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Wanderers join Kudus at the top

FNB Wanderers joined FNB Kudus at the top of the Namibia Rugby Premier League log after a thrilling 42-36 victory against FNB Unam on Saturday. 

Kudus and FNB Western Suburbs, meanwhile, both recorded narrow 27-25 victories against FNB Reho Falcons and FNB Rehoboth respectively, while Trustco United beat FNB Grootfontein 42-10. 

At the Unam stadium, Wanderers seemed to be heading for a comfortable victory when they streaked into a 27-12 lead by half time, but Unam made a great comeback, even taking a 31-27 lead at a stage, before a late rally by Wanderers saw them claiming a hard-fought victory. 

Former national scrumhalf Eugene Jantjies, coming out of retirement and turning out at flyhalf, played a starring role for Wanderers, scoring 12 points with the boot.

He also set up their opening try with a fine grubber kick that winger Nandi Karuuombe snapped up to speed through unopposed, and when hooker Franko Pearson went over from a forward driving maul, they went 12-0 ahead. 

A Jantjies penalty put them 15-0 ahead, but after concerted pressure, Unam finally opened their account through a great try by winger Hatago Nunuhe who cut past three defenders to dive over. 

Wanderers immediately regained the initiative when centre Danie van der Merwe broke through some halfhearted tackles to dive over and when fullback Johan Zaayman went over after a fine break by scrumhalf Reben Botha they took a commanding 27-5 lead. 

Eugene Jantjies of Wanderers and Graham April of Unam interviewed after Wanderers’ 42-36 victory on 1 July 2023. Video: Helge Schutz

Flanker Rowan Jansen pulled a try back for Unam after breaking through the backline, but with a 27-12 deficit at the break they were still well behind. 

With captain Graham April leading from the front with some barnstorming runs, Unam, however, made a great comeback, scoring three tries in 10 minutes to take the lead. 

Eighthman Roaldo Rittmann crashed over after constant pressure on Wanderers’ line, while Shareave Titus went over on the right wing after a fine counterattack by centre Kieron Diergaardt. 

The momentum was now with Unam and when flyhalf Raschano van Rooi cut through for a converted try they were suddenly 31-27 ahead. 

Wanderers, however, immediately regained the lead when winger Armand Kotze stormed through from the kickoff, and when centre Van der Merwe went over for his second try after a counterattack by Karuuombe, they went 39-31 ahead. 

Unam struck back through a try by centre Johannes Mwenyo to reduce the deficit to 39-36, but a last minute penalty by Jantjies secured a narrow win for Wanderers. 

The win saw Wanderers joining Kudus at the top of the log on 38 points, after the latter also had to dig deep before beating Falcons 27-25 at Rehoboth. 

Falcons, in fact, led 17-11 at halftime, but Kudus regained the lead in the final minutes through a try by winger Irongwa Atshivudhi.

Falcons immediately struck back with a try by substitute back Daniel Bezuidenhout and could have drawn the match, but Enrique Husselmann’s conversion attempt went wide. 

For Kudus, centre Justin Newman and replacement forward Daniel Rossouw also scored tries, while Aurelio Plato and Geraldo Beukes each added two penalties. 

For Falcons, Husselmann and flanker Keynnen Basson also scored tries, while Husselmann added two conversions and two penalties for a personal tally of 15 points.

There was also a thriller at Suburbs Park where Western Suburbs edged Rehoboth 27-25.

For Suburbs, fullback Gino Wilson scored two tries and eighthman Richard Mapewa one, while scrumhalf Bronwon Willemse added 10 points with the boot and flyhalf Justin Nel two. 

Rehoboth scored two tries through leftwing Dolano Vries and substitute forward Charl Freygang, while flyhalf Henrique Olivier added 15 points with the boot. 

Suburbs are now fourth on the log on 25 points, while Rehoboth are sixth on 20. 

Trustco United, meanwhile, thumped Grootfontein 42-10 to remain third on the log on 33 points.

For United, flanker Eloff du Plessis and prop Hanno Husselmann both scored two tries and flyhalf Hanreco van Zyl and substitute back Llewellyn Koopman one each, while fullback Renier Benade added 12 points with the boot. 

For Grootfontein, prop Henning Joubert scored a try, while fullback Ronald Deck added a conversion and a penalty.