Unam back on top after comeback win against Grootfontein 

Unam centre Lesley Klim in action against Grootfontein. Photo: Helge Schütz

FNB Unam regained the lead in the Windhoek Lager Rugby Premier League but were pushed all the way before beating a gallant FNB Grootfontein 29-24 on Saturday. 

Grootfontein, in fact, raced into an early 17-0 lead and 24-12 by halftime and had their kicking been better they could well have pulled off a major upset.

Grootfontein came out firing and after winning three early scrums, they took a 7-0 lead when scrumhalf Dhaamin Bassardien went over for a try converted by right wing Uroel Marais.

Fullback Alfred Vercuil soon added a penalty and when flanker Martinus Nekundi crashed over for a try converted by Marais they were 17-0 ahead after only 12 minutes.

Unam, however, struck back with former national centre Lesley Klim in the thick of things. He started a counterattack that nearly led to a try by left wing Quirione Majiedt, before right wing Aljarreau Zaahl opened their account with a try in the other corner.

Grootfontein stretched their lead to 24-5 when Vercuil went over for a converted try from a maul, but Unam struck back when flanker Bjorn Kazondungu went over from a forward maul, and with Zaahl converting they headed into halftime with a 24-12 deficit. 

Marais missed a sitter of a penalty in front of the posts shortly after the restart and Unam made Grootfontein pay as they came charging back, with eighthman Handre Bezuidenhout crashing over for a great try from a lineout. Zaahl added the conversion and when he sent over a 50m penalty they had closed the gap to 24-22. 

Unam camped on Grootfontein’s tryline and finally took the lead when Majiedt went over in the corner from a backline attack, and with Zaahl adding a great conversion from the touchline they ran out 29-24 winners. 

That win now puts them back at the top of the log on 44 points from 10 matches, but Wanderers are just two points behind with a match in hand. Grootfontein, meanwhile, are fourth on 25 points from 10 matches.

Unam captain Gerhard Thirionsaid it was a difficult game.

“We took a while to get the momentum going, but we never give up and we are trying to make a turnaround from our defeats against Falcons and Wanderers. We are playing till the 80th minute and putting our lives on the line,” he said. 

Thirion, who is now in his first season with Unam after previously playing for United said it has been a great transition. 

“Unam is really becoming my new family, accepting me and making it very easy for me to adapt here, to play my normal rugby and learn some new skills along the way.”

Grootfontein captain Wicus Jacobs said they let themselves down. 

“It was physical match, but we played against ourselves once again – we were on their tryline but couldn’t execute. I think at the end of the day our set pieces let us down, so it was a bit tough.

“We were definitely targetting a win against Unam, they are one of the scalps that we havent taken yet in the premier league, we were fighting for it, but I hope we get there one day,” he added. 

“Those near misses are costing us, and those opportunities not taken all count against us, but I think if we play like we did in the first 20 minutes we will be a force to be reckoned with,” he said. 

In a bottom-of-the-log encounter at Swakopmund, FNB Western Suburbs beat Simonis Storm Dolphins 22-8.

Suburbs scored three tries through fullback Justin Nel, centre Darryl Vries and replacement back Demarcho Hartung, while flyhalf Rudi Pretorius added two conversions and Nel a penalty.

For Dolphins, captain and flanker Romario Janga scored a try. 

The result sees Dolphins remaining at the bottom of the log on five points, while Suburbs remain second last on 16, although they are now just behind FNB Rehoboth (16 points) on points difference. 

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