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Tonga holds off plucky Namibia


Namibia scored three tries in a Rugby World Cup game for the first time but its wait for a maiden victory at the tournament goes on after losing 35-21 to Tonga in an entertaining Pool C match on Tuesday.

Lively winger Telusa Veainu and roaming flanker Jack Ram scored two tries each for the Tongans, who ran in five in total as they bounced back from a 17-10 loss to Georgia in their opening pool game.

A Namibian side containing many amateur players held its own, though, with captain Jacques Burger scoring two second-half tries from the base of driving mauls to push the Africans past their previous best single-match haul of two tries.

Late pressure almost brought them a first-ever bonus point at a World Cup, but Tonga held firm at another maul as Burger eyed up a hat trick of tries. The defeat took Namibia’s tournament-record run of consecutive losses to 17.

“We are growing slowly,” Burger said, “but we haven’t got a lot of time left here.”

Watched by countryman and former sprint star Frankie Fredericks, Namibia couldn’t handle Tonga in the scrum and missed too many tackles, but was threatening in the loose as Sandy Park — the southern-most venue at the World Cup — was treated to a fast-and-loose contest.

“We didn’t play with our brain and let them back in the game,” said Tonga No. 8 Viliami Ma’afu, one of the team’s two co-captains for the match. “We showcased our skills but made a lot of mistakes.”

Wales, France prepare


While Wales counted who was fit in the squad to play Fiji in Cardiff, France casually rotated its squad to meet Canada in Milton Keynes as both sides look for a third consecutive win at the Rugby World Cup on Thursday.

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre has built a reputation for tinkering incessantly with France, and appears to have no intention of slowing down here, after using every player in his squad against Italy and Romania. Except this time, rather than changing players on a tactical whim, he’s doing it to keep fringe players sharp if they’re needed later in the tournament.

“We’re lucky enough to have used all 31 players,” he said. “You can see with all the injuries since the start of the tournament that a No. 3 player might be decisive one day.”

Wales needs little reminding of that, and there will be some unfamiliar faces on show at Millennium Stadium.

When Warren Gatland unveiled his lineup, there were three injury-enforced changes to his depleted back division. Fullback Matthew Morgan, center Tyler Morgan, and winger Alex Cuthbert came into a backline that lost Scott Williams and Hallam Amos to tournament-ending injuries in Saturday’s thrilling 28-25 win over England.

Williams and Amos became the fifth and sixth Welsh backs ruled out of the World Cup this month, while fullback Liam Williams was unavailable against Fiji after a head knock against England.