For the third consecutive Rugby World Cup, Namibia and New Zealand squared off in pool play and once more, New Zealand won the match while Nambia won the hearts of fans.
The 71-3 scoreline reflects the mostly one-sided nature of the battle but neglects the multiple scoring opportunities Namibia earned, with eight entries into the New Zealand 22.
Stoic defence kept the Welwitschias at bay in difficult conditions after an early All Blacks lead forced the Namibian side to chase seven-pointers, instead of the occasional three that came on offer.
For the All Blacks, the win relieves some of the tension that has arisen after two poor results against the Springboks and France.
The match offered a chance for New Zealand to reset and according to former All Black Jeff Wilson, they did just that.
“Absolutely, they really, really did,” Wilson told Stuff’s Newsable. “In regards to their accuracy, their discipline, other than that late yellow card to Ethan de Groot.
“They conceded a couple of penalties earlier on but ultimately, they came out and made some really good decisions in trying conditions.
“Look, Namibia probably didn’t threaten them as much as we anticipated them to do so. Their defence was probably not good enough against an All Black team which was determined to play and they showed that from the opening minute; holding onto it for multiple phases, scoring a 60-70 metre try on the back of multiple plays from quality players.
“All of a sudden you got a sense that the All Blacks were prepared, were up for the contest and then the dominance started up front.
“Overall, you’ve got to look at their performance and they’ll be really pleased in that it’s easy in those sorts of games to get loose.
“There were only probably a couple of moments, probably in the last 15 minutes where they got that way and maybe tried to do a little bit too much.
“I’m not sure they could do much more than what they did tonight really, given the fact that it did bucket down for about 10 minutes, which just made some work in the last 20 minutes of the first half a little bit more challenging.”
New Zealand’s cohesion faltered when the back reserves took the field, Richie Mo’unga stepped into his familiar first-five role and Damian McKenzie dropped to fullback while Aaron Smith assumed the halfback assignment and Rieko Ioane joined the midfield.
The bench came on with the intent to play at speed but often looked out of sync and there were numerous knock-ons as well as penalties to finish the game.
The brightest positive from the game was Man of the Match Cam Roigard. The young halfback scored twice and was an ever-present threat around the park.
“He was amazing but interestingly enough, he’s got a really calm head on his shoulders,” Wilson remarked.
“I had a chat to him after the game, interviewed him, and it was almost as if he was matter of fact that he knows that that’s not the standard that it’s going to take to win a Rugby World Cup. He knows that.
“He literally went ‘Yeah, I had a great night, but I had the platform in front of me, there were spaces for me to run into’.
“He knows that’s different to what he’ll face in a tight game so he was matter of fact about it. I think he really enjoyed the occasion and he should celebrate because of that but also, he knows that he’s just got to keep working.
“I like the head on his shoulders.”