Rugby World Cup debutant Scott Williams scored three tries as Wales ran out easy 81-7 winners over Namibia in a Pool D match at Stadium Taranaki on Monday.
Williams’ first try came in the eighth minute when Leigh Halfpenny made a break after some slick passing from a scrum and off-loaded to the inside centre, who raced within centimetres of the left touchline to score.
His second try came soon after the break as he got on the end of play at a breakdown and Wales had a bonus point. Williams’ third came in the 70th minute when he broke through a tiring Namibian defence to dot down.
Having been kept scoreless for the last 22 minutes of the first spell to lead 22-0 at the break, Wales began scoring with the ease they started the match with.
Prop Gethin Jenkins scored with a 25-metre run in the 50th minute at the end of a move that went back and forth across the pitch. With the conversion the score was 36-0.
Then Namibia made their mark in the 52nd minute when Nico Esterhuyse intercepted a Welsh pass, offloaded to big second row Heinz Koll, who raced into the right corner to score a universally popular try. Theuns Kotze strode to the top RWC points scorer for Namibia when he converted for 36-7.
But Namibia were reduced to 14 men when replacement Raoul Larson was yellow-carded for collapsing a scrum.
George North, a 55th minute replacement, crept up alongside a Welsh scrum and sprinted over in the 61st minute for Wales’ sixth try, converted by Stephen Jones.
A minute later North was again in the action when he made a break and passed to Jonathan Davies to race from the 22-metre mark to score. The Stephen Jones conversion, his last piece of action before being replaced, put the score to 50-7.
North, the youngest try scorer in RWC history at 19, scored again in the 66th minute, and the conversion from Rhys Priestland made the score 57-7.
Then Williams struck for his hat-trick of tries four minutes later and Priestland’s conversion made the score 64-7.
Lloyd Williams then struck in the 75th minute wide on the left and Priestland hit a post with the conversion, before two minutes later Lee Byrne was on the end of a big overlap to score. Priestland again missed the conversion, with the score 74-7.
It became 79-7 when Alun Wyn Jones went over in the final minute.
Stephen Jones had earlier celebrated the start of his 101st Welsh cap with the first points of the match, a penalty in the third minute.
Playing in a strong breeze coming from the nearby Tasman Sea and on a heavy field, where handling was often a lottery, both sides fumbled early opportunities.
After Williams had scored his first try, following more quick passing which made a mockery of the conditions, Bradley Davies broke a tackle in the 14th minute and fed big wing Aled Brew, who burst a weak Namibian tackle and raced to the line. Jones converted to make it 15-0.
Four minutes later Ryan Jones took a quick tap-penalty, passed to Toby Faletau who had a simple trot to the line, and Stephen Jones converted for 22-0.
Warren Gatland said: “We started off with 22 points in 15 minutes but then the players thought the job was done and went to sleep. They got a bollocking at half-time and, in the second half, I thought our impact off the bench was good and I was happy with the end result.
“I thought Scott Williams had an excellent game, Lloyd Williams did well off the bench and it was good to see Ryan Jones back Our scrum got a bit messy and we’ll look at the tape and see what side we will pick for the game against Fiji.”
Jacques Burger said: “They are a very good side and that’s why they blew us away. We could not stop them. Sometimes we looked good, other times we didn’t. It is the end of the road for us but good luck to Wales for the rest of the World Cup.”
Johan Diergaardt Namibia coach said: “Jacques will always be one of those characters in Namibian rugby which will be (well) known. He’s a great player to work with. In saying that, we have players of the same calibre but not enough of them.”
- Wales recorded their biggest ever RWC win when beating Namibia by 74 points (81-7). Their previous biggest triumph had been by 54 points, when they beat Japan 72-18 in 2007.
- Wales also set team records for most points (81), tries (12) and conversions (nine) in a single RWC match.
- George North became the youngest try scorer (19 years and 166 days) in RWC history, breaking the record by Australia’s Joe Roff (19 years and 253 days on 31 May 1995).
- North was the third replacement to score a pair of tries in one match at RWC 2011, joining Juan de Jongh (RSA) and Sonny Bill Williams (NZL).
- Scott Williams’ first career RWC try was the 1,600th in the history of the competition. Williams went on to become the first Wales RWC hat-trick scorer since Gareth Thomas against Japan in 1995.
- Wales’ 12th and final try of the match was their 100th scored in RWC, becoming the seventh team to have registered at least a century of tries in the World Cup.
- Stephen Jones set a Wales record with the 101st Test for his national team, surpassing Gareth Thomas. Fly half Jones raised his career Test total to 107, having represented the British and Irish Lions on six occasions.
- Stephen Jones equalled another Wales record held by Gareth Thomas, that of having played in four different World Cups.
- Gethin Jenkins was the first starting prop to score a RWC try for Wales. Before today, 1 and 3 were the only Wales shirt numbers from 1 to 15 not to have touched down.
- Ken Owens became the first Wales player since Jason Jones-Hughes in 1999 to make his Test debut in an RWC match.
- Namibia bowed out of RWC 2011 having lost all four of their Pool D matches. They have lost all of their 15 matches in the competition and have conceded at least three tries in each match.
- Theuns Kotze set a Namibia World Cup record with most career points (24), surpassing Lean van Dyk’s 22.
- Heinz Koll set a Namibia record with his second RWC try. No other Welwitschias player has ever scored more than one RWC try.
- Chrysander Botha, Jacques Burger and Piet van Zyl played all 320 minutes of Namibia’s RWC 2011 campaign. McGrath van Wyk was their only player that remained unused.
- Namibia fielded their oldest starting XV in RWC history in their final match at RWC 2011, with their starters averaging 28 years and 75 days.
- Namibia’s 44 points scored and their five tries are their most in a single World Cup. However, their 266 points conceded are the second most ever by any team in a World Cup, second only to the Welwitschias’ 310 points allowed in 2003.