NOS Sports•today, 6:17 PM
The Dutch rugby players started the Europe Championship with an unnecessary home defeat. Willie du Plessis did not get the last kick of the match between the posts in Amsterdam, meaning Spain returned home with an 18-20 victory.
Under the watchful eye of two special guests, South African world champions Siya Kolisi and Damian Willemse, the Netherlands got off to a strong start by immediately putting pressure on the Spanish defense. That forced the yellow armada from Southern Europe to pull the emergency brake several times. David Weersma nevertheless gave the Dutch team the lead after five minutes.
It was short-lived. The strong wind turned out to be a serious problem for the Netherlands. This not only resulted in several errors, but also in a ten-minute penalty for the new captain Koen Bloemen.
After Weersma saw his second kick sail far wide, Spain twice benefited from defensive shooting on the Dutch side. The guests went into halftime with a score of 6-20.
After the break, the Netherlands managed to completely turn the game around, but a try was not achieved for a long time. It wasn’t until halfway through the second half that the time came and immediately in duplicate: both Van Dijken and Bloemen were responsible for one. The Netherlands came within two points and there was more to come against the opponent who has always been much stronger in recent years.
One successful kick would give the suddenly all-powerful Netherlands the victory and the chance to do so also came in the last action of the match. However, Specialist Weersma had already been replaced. The experienced 33-year-old Du Plessis did the honors, but missed miserably.
National coach Lyn Jones, while visiting the dressing rooms, said nothing more than “drama, drama”. Weersma could only agree with that and was disappointed that he was no longer within the lines at the last kick. “Those are the kicks you want to be there for, kicks that decide the game.”
The Netherlands now only had one loser’s point left in the opening match in the group, from which the best two countries qualified for the semi-finals. Knowing that Georgia, one of the other opponents in the group of four, has been supreme at this level for years, they hardly seem to be within reach for the Dutch team.
On Saturday, February 11, the Netherlands will visit the favorite, who will play against Germany on Sunday.