The Springbok Women started their WXV 2 campaign with a 31-17 defeat (half-time 17-10) against Scotland in Stellenbosch, but the South Africans never gave up and were in the fight until the very end at the Danie Craven Stadium, on Friday, 13 October, 2023.
With four minutes left in the game, a try from an attacking line-out by Lisa Thomson (centre) sealed the deal for the Scots, whose superior experience made a difference. They also scored four more tries from rolling mauls, while the South Africans responded with two five-pointers.
Despite a devastating scrum performance, where they forced numerous penalties, other areas of their play let the Bok Women down, while they also made way too many unforced errors.
Bok Women show marked improvement from previous encounters
Unfortunately their line-out didn’t function consistently well and they also struggled with their discipline, allowing Scotland to play in the right areas of the field.
But it was a much-improved performance. The last time the Bok Women met Scotland in South Africa, four years ago, the visitors won the Tests by 47-5 and 38-15.
The host team drew first blood when Libbie Janse van Rensburg (flyhalf) slotted a penalty goal in the ninth minute, which came after some early attacking pressure by South Africa.
Scotland defended well and when they started finding gaps in the Bok Women’s defensive line, the visitors started gaining in confidence.
Their first try, from a maul by Evie Gallagher (No 8), came as a direct result of a sublime midfield break around the edge of a ruck by scrum-half Mairi McDonald.
South Africa hit back almost immediately with a fantastic try by Aseza Hele (No 8), who crashed over under the uprights.
It started with a strong counter-attacking run by fullback Chuma Qawe before the Bok Women showed wonderful patience on attack in the Scottish 22, setting up multiple phases before the strong No 8 broke through a number of tackles to score.
Janse van Rensburg converted to put South Africa back in the lead at 10-5 in the 29th minute.
Scotland’s experience and mauling power prove decisive
However, ill-discipline by the South Africans allowed Scotland to set up attacking mauls and Lana Skeldon (hooker) scored twice late in the half to give her team a 17-10 lead at the break.
take a line-out for SA in a much-improved performance by the Springbok Women. Photo: SA Rugby
The same script repeated itself in the 57th minute when Leah Bartlett (prop) was driven over from a line-out. That happened after the Bok Women failed to kick three consecutive penalties into touch, again allowing the Scots some reprieve.
South Africa hit back seven minutes later with a great maul try of their own by Roseline Botes (replacement hooker), with Janse van Rensburg adding the extras to make it 24-17 with 15 minutes to go.
From restart Francesca McGhie (wing) scored what would have been Scotland’s fifth try, but the TMO judged that the final pass was forward. Ten minutes later Thomson had the final say as Scotland finished with a well-deserved win, but the Bok Women could leave the field with their heads held high.
Italy won the opening WXV 2 game earlier on Friday afternoon when they beat Japan by 28-15 (half-time 14-5), with the winning team scoring four tries to three.
WXV Match Result: Springbok Women v Scotland at the Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch on Friday, 13 October, 2023:
Springbok Women (10) 17 – 31 (17) Scotland
Springbok Women 17 (10) – Tries: Aseza Hele, Roseline Botes. Conversions: Libbie Janse van Rensburg (2). Penalty goal: Janse van Rensburg
Scotland 31 (17) – Tries: Evie Gallagher, Lana Skeldon (2), Leah Bartlett, Lisa Thomson. Conversions: Helen Nelson, Meryl Smith (2)
Main Photo Caption: A much-improved South Africa’s first first big moment of the match arrived right after Scotland’s first try, the Bok Women hitting back almost immediately with a fantastic try by No 8 Aseza Hele, who crashed over under the uprights for the Bok Women’s first try. Photo: SA Rugby
Photo 2 Caption: South Africa first drew first blood when vice-captain flyhalf Libbie Janse van Rensburg slotted a penalty goal in the ninth minute, after some early attacking pressure by the host nation. Photo: SA Rugby
Photo 3 Caption: In contrast to the pattern of play which saw the host nation struggle at the line-out, Vainah Ubisi demonstrates how to take a line-out for SA in a much-improved performance by the Springbok Women. Photo: SA Rugby