The Springbok Women on Wednesday delivered a spirited performance against Samoa in Marcoussis to secure a nail-biting 25-24 victory in their penultimate Women’s Rugby World Cup clash.
The victory, which marked their first of the tournament, ensures that the team will have a shot at securing their best finish yet in the tournament, as it earned them a place in the ninth/tenth place playoff on the final day’s play on Sunday. The team’s best finish in the Women’s Rugby World Cup up to now is 10th position.
The first half proved to be a ping pong battle between the teams, as South Africa allowed Samoa to bounce back immediately after they scored points throughout the half. But they maintained their composure in a tense second half to secure the narrow victory.
South Africa got off to a firing start with flyhalf Zandile Nojoko scoring a try in the 50th second after flank Rachelle Geldenhuys charged down a ball in Samoa’s half and made a few yards before passing to Nojoko, who touched down for the team’s first try of the tournament and a 7-0 lead.
But they allowed Samoa to hit back immediately after through flyhalf Bella Milo, who finished off a well-worked team try as they opted for pick-and-go’s to force their way into South Africa’s 22.
Springbok Women’s captain and centre Zenay Jordaan, however, edged her team back into the lead with a penalty in the 14th minute.
This, however, was short-lived as Samoa put in a big hit on defence from the kick-off, which dislodged the ball from flank Shona-Leah Weston’s hands and Samoa pounced on it to cross the tryline for the second time for a 14-10 lead.
SA again managed to string together phases on attack in the exchanges that followed and earned a ruck penalty, which Jordaan slotted over to reduce the deficit to only one point.
South Africa built on this in the 31st minute by scoring their second try from a solid lineout, which Geldenhuys capitalised on with her brute force to power her way over the tryline. This pushed SA 20-14 ahead on the scoreboard.
The Ping-Pong battle, however, continued, as Milo caught the South African defence off-guard to cross the chalk for their third try of the match and a 21-20 lead, which the teams maintained until half time.
The Springbok Women were dealt a big blow shortly after the break as lock Celeste Adonis received a yellow card for infringing at a ruck, and Samoa again converted the opportunity into points with Milo slotting over a penalty, which pushed them 24-20 ahead.
Despite this South Africa remained positive and retained possession which allowed them to camp in Samoa’s half for most of the half. Their attacking efforts finally paid off in the 59th minute as replacement wing Veroeshka Grain received the ball out wide and ran around a few defenders to score their third try of the match. This placed South Africa 25-24 ahead.
The final quarter was a tense as both teams gave everything on attack and defence, which resulted in a stop-start affair. But SA absorbed the pressure well to hold on for the one-point victory.
Scorers: South Africa 25 (20) – Tries: Zandile Nojoko, Rachelle Geldenhuys, Veroeshka Grain. Conversions: Zenay Jordaan (2). Penalties: Zenay Jordaan (2) Samoa 24 (21) – Tries: Bella Milo (2), Merenaite Faitala-Mariner. Conversions: Bella Milo (3). Penalties: Milo. South Africa Fixtures and results at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, at the French Rugby Federation in Marcoussis: 1 August: Australia 26-3 South Africa 5 August: France 55-3 South Africa 9 August: Wales 35-3 South Africa 13 August: South Africa 25-24 Samoa 17 August: South Africa vs Spain The Springbok Women’s Team to the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France: Portia Jonga (Kwaru RFC) Prop Cebisa Kula (African Bombers) Prop Nwabisa Ngxatu (Queenstown Breakers) Prop Asithandile Ntoyanto (Dalibaso) Prop Thantaswa Macingwane (Imonti Penguins) Hooker Denita Wentzel (Maties) Hooker Nolusindiso Booi (University of Fort Hare Baby Blues) Lock Andrea Mentoor (Maties) Lock Celeste Adonis (Maties) Back Row Rachelle Geldenhuys (Tuks, Pretoria) Back Row Nomaphelo Mayongo (University of Fort Hare Baby Blues) Back Row Lamla Momoti (University of Fort Hare Baby Blues) Back Row Vuyolwethu Vazi (Tuks, Pretoria) Back Row Mandisa Williams (Imonti Penguins) Back Row (Withdrawn) Tayla Kinsey (College Rovers) Scrumhalf Fundiswa Plaatjie (Imonti Penguins) Scrumhalf Siphosethu Tshingana (Kwaru RFC) Scrumhalf Zenay Jordaan (Middleburg Stormers) Flyhalf Zandile Nojoko (Kwaru RFC) Flyhalf Lorinda Brown (Middleburg Stormers) Centre Benele Makwezela (Busy Bees) Centre Shona-Leah Weston (Tuks, Pretoria) Centre Phumeza Gadu (African Bombers) Wing Veroeshka Grain (Maties) Wing) Sinazo Nobele (Kwanobuhle) Wing Siviwe Basweni (Imonti Penguins) Fullback Cindy Cant (Tuks, Pretoria) Fullback Management: Lawrence Sephaka (Head Coach) Noms Tsotsobe (Team Manager) Renfred Dazel (Assistant Coach) Tanu Pillay (Physiotherapist) Jerome Mampane (Doctor) Heyno Kraft (Biokineticist)
Photo 1 caption: South Africa launch another attack against Samoa during their narrow 25-24 win, for their first tournament victory at the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 at the French Rugby Federation in Marcoussis on Wednesday, 13 August, 2014. Photo: C. Glemet/IRB
Photo 2 caption: Samoa scrum half Tulua Leuluaialii gets the ball away at the base of a ruck against South Africa, at the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 on Wednesday, 13 August, 2014. Photo: C. Glemet/IRB
(With editing by gsport)