Wales routed Namibia 81-7 for its biggest Rugby World Cup victory to grab second place in Pool D and move closer to a quarterfinal place.
Center Scott Williams scored a hat trick and replacement winger George North touched down twice in New Plymouth, New Zealand, as the Welsh ran in 12 tries on their way to overtaking their 54-point victory over Japan at the 2007 tournament.
The bonus-point victory lifts Wales to 10 points alongside Samoa in the Pool D standings, though the Welsh take second spot having won the teams’ Sept. 18 match. Defending champion South Africa is top with 14 points and faces Samoa in four days time. Wales and Fiji play the group’s last game on Oct. 2.
“We got the bonus point which is what we wanted,” Wales captain Sam Warburton said in a televised interview. “The game broke up in the second half and the boys showed their skills and we got 12 tries.”
The top two teams in each of the 20-nation tournament’s four pools advance to the quarterfinals.
Host New Zealand, which beat France 37-17 two days ago to cement its status as the favorite to win the Webb Ellis Cup, is the only team so far assured of a spot in the last eight.
Wales needed 47 minutes at Stadium Taranaki to secure the four tries required for a bonus point against 19th-ranked Namibia, which had allowed at least five tries in all but one of its 14 previous losses at the World Cup.
Backing up four days after losing 87-0 to South Africa in the most lopsided result at this year’s tournament, Namibia kept the Welsh to 22 first-half points as Williams, Aled Brew and Toby Faletau all went over and Stephen Jones added a penalty and two conversions in his record-breaking 101st Test appearance for Wales. Fly-half Jones kicked 15 points in total.
“He’s definitely one of the Welsh greats and it was a privilege to play with him today,” Warburton said of Jones.
Williams and Gethin Jenkins went over early in the second half before Wales pulled away with seven tries in the final 20 minutes against a tiring Namibian defense. The African team, which missed 42 tackles in total, got its only try through second-rower Heinz Koll in the 53rd minute.
Jonathan Davies, Lloyd Williams, Lee Byrne and Alun-Wyn Jones also crossed Namibia’s line in the final quarter, while replacement fly-half Rhys Priestland added three conversions as Wales bettered its 72-18 win over Japan four years ago.
“They are a very good side and that’s why they blew us away,” Namibia captain Jacques Burger said in a televised interview. “‘We could not stop them. It is the end of the road for us but good luck to Wales for the rest of the World Cup.”