Wales brush aside Namibia for record win

Wales 81 Namibia 7

Wales 81 Namibia 7

Wales stayed firmly on course for a potential quarter-final showdown with Ireland after crushing an outclassed Namibia at Stadium Taranaki.

Wales moved second in Pool D behind world champions South Africa after easily passing their previous record World Cup-winning margin of 54 points against Japan four years ago.

Victory over already-eliminated Fiji next Sunday should secure their last-eight place – and a meeting with Ireland in Wellington on Saturday week.

Coach Warren Gatland made 11 changes from the team that beat Samoa in Hamilton, and although Wales struggled for fluency at times, they still coasted home.

Centre Scott Williams scored three of his team’s 12 tries, while there were also touchdowns for substitute wing George North (2), Williams’ midfield colleague Jonathan Davies, wing Aled Brew, prop Gethin Jenkins, number eight Toby Faletau, full-back Lee Byrne, lock Alun-Wyn Jones and replacement scrum-half Lloyd Williams.

Fly-half Stephen Jones marked his record 101st cap by booting six conversions and a penalty, while Rhys Priestland converted three tries after going on for the final quarter.

Namibia managed a consolation try for lock Heinz Koll, converted by fly-half Thuens Kotze, but they bowed out of the World Cup following four successive defeats that saw them concede 266 points.

Wales now head back to Hamilton to face Fiji as their World Cup campaign continues to gather impressive momemtum.

Stephen Jones made an early impression on the scoreboard, kicking Wales into a third-minute lead from 30 metres, but Namibia proved organised defensively during the early stages.

Wales were eager to put width on their possession, and that adventure reaped its reward when wing Leigh Halfpenny roamed free in midfield, injected pace and then sent centre Williams clear for his first Test try.

Jones’ touchline conversion attempt hit the post, but Wales were up and running, 8-0 ahead after as many minutes in pursuit of a maximum five points.

And Namibia continued to find themselves under considerable pressure. Despite some valiant efforts to attack from deep, they could make little head way, and Wales punished them ruthlessly.

Brew finished off a move sparked by lock Bradley Davies’ break, and then Faletau touched down after Ryan Jones took a quick penalty, and with Jones adding both conversions, Wales led 22-0.

Kotze missed a long-range chance to open his team’s account, and despite Namibia’s best efforts, basic handling errors undermined any sustained threat inside Wales territory.

Wales were guilty of poor discipline at times, yet they proved a major threat with ball in hand, pushing for a fourth try deep inside the second quarter.

Referee Steve Walsh, though, readily punished both sides’ indiscipline, which contributed towards making it a stop-start contest, but Wales were good value for their lead.

Wales collected an all-important fourth try just six minutes into the second period when Namibia messed up scrum ball inside their own 22.

Williams reacted quickest, gathering loose possession and sprinting clear for his second touchdown, with Jones’ conversion making it 29-0.

Namibia’s damage-limitation exercise was now firmly under way, but Wales struck again just three minutes later, courtesy of a powerful 25-metre run by Jenkins that saw him touch down.

Jones again added the extras, and with the game won, Wales coach Warren Gatland made his first substitution, sending on Andy Powell for skipper Sam Warburton.

But Namibia, playing a punishing second game in five days, responded through a well-worked try by Koll, whose arcing run saw him cross wide out and Kotze converted.

Wales’ superior fitness began to tell, and tries in quick succession from North and Davies – both converted by Jones – brought up the half-century.

The powerful North caused Namibia all kinds of grief, and he added his second try following impressive work from Byrne, with Priestland converting.

Williams then completed his hat-trick, before replacement scrum-half Lloyd Williams crossed and Byrne added try number 11 before lock Alun-Wyn Jones completed the rout to send Namibia home and Wales maintaining considerable interest in the quarter-finals and possibly beyond.

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