First division finalists set aim on title

Defending title holders Etosha Lions have been eliminated.
Andrew Poolman
A new champion team in the Namibia Rugby Union’s Windhoek Beer first-division final will be decided at the Hage Geingob Stadium on Saturday, after Vipers and Oceans Swallows both narrowly won their semi-finals recently.
The Vipers beat Okahandja Highlanders 20-18, before a late penalty by Swallows flyhalf Jamaal van Wyk gave the Lüderitz team a 19-17 win that eliminated the defending title holders Etosha Lions.
While Vipers from Windhoek have seen all their previous challenges ended by the likes of Grootfontein (now a premier league contender) and others, Ocean Swallows will be highly eager to add to their historic 2016 triumph, when they beat Etosha Lions in the semi-final to reach their first-ever final and proceeded to beat Mariental 17-14.

Narrow margins
In the first semifinal, the Highlanders went 6-0 ahead after two penalties by centre Andre Majiedt, but the Vipers struck back when nr. 8 Owen Swartz stretched over from close range. Scrumhalf Luandru Oberholzer’s conversion put them 7-6 ahead.
The Highlanders regained the lead when hooker Vaja Tjitjo barged over for a try, but two penalties by Oberholzer put the Vipers 13-11 ahead at halftime.
Swartz crashed over for his second try early in the second half and with Oberholzer converting, the Vipers opened up a 20-11 points gap.
The Highlanders together a period of applying great pressure on the Vipers tryline, but the Vipers defended courageously to keep them at bay.
Okahandja’s pressure finally told when right wing Duncan Subeb went over for a try after a line break by Majiedt, who added the conversion, but it was too little too late as Vipers held on for a two-point win.
Vipers, under head coach Charles Oosthuizen, recently acquired Bakkies Rossouw (former Varsity Cup flank for Shimlas and Romanian club CSA Steaua Bucuresti) assisting as forwards coach.

Swallows advance
In the second semi-final, Swallows’ fly-half Van Wyk kicked 14 points to abruptly end the Tsumeb team’s unbeaten season.
The Etosha Lions had much of the early ascendancy, with their captain and eighthman Nguvitja Tjaronda (Namibia U20 last year) and flank Charlton Somseb prominent.
Swallows, however, defended courageously and took the lead after 30 minutes when Van Wyk put over his first penalty.
The Lüderitz team went 10-0 ahead early in the second half when hooker Owen Fredericks went over from a forward maul, and when Van Wyk added a 50m penalty they took a comfortable 13-0 lead.
Etosha Lions, however, made a stirring comeback and opened their account when wing Corne du Plessis crashed over in the corner for a try that he converted himself.
Another Van Wyk penalty extended Swallows’ lead to 16-7, but the Lions once again struck back with a try by lock Jean du Plessis and took the lead for the first time (17-16) when nr. 8 Tjaronda touched down.
Van Wyk, however, had the last say when he put over a penalty in the dying moments to send Swallows into the final.
• The NRU first division final, a curtain-raiser to the test match between Namibia and Portugal, will also be broadcast live (kick-off at 12:30).