The South African Women’s rugby team scored a historic victory on Tuesday evening (SA time) when they defeated the United States 26-23 in an exciting Nations Cup match in Ontario, Canada.
The victory marked the first win for the SA Women’s team over one of the top ranked teams and also their first victory at the Nations Cup. It followed after two losses against Canada and England in earlier round-robin matches, where the team was outplayed by their far more experienced opponents.
South Africa made the best of the conditions, which cleared up after some rain earlier in the day. After a patchy start from both sides, the USA pulled ahead thanks to two penalties from Sadie Anderson (6-0). Zandile Nojoko, the SA Women’s fly half, replied with a penalty before USA winger Vanessa McGee stretched the lead further with a converted try.
The South Africans had other ideas, however, and some direct running lead to two tries by centre Daphne Scheepers and prop Cebisa Kula, which brought the scored level at halftime (13-13). After the break, the USA regained the lead through tries by Kaelene Lundstrum and substitute Katie Dowty. Nojoko kept SA in touch with a penalty.
But as the Americans looked to pin their opponents deep in their own half, replacement winger Janine Felix took two clever offloads to race through for a pair of late tries to clinch a historic victory for South Africa.
Referee Joyce Henry would call full-time immediately following Felix’s last effort and the pitch was soon flooded by an ecstatic group of South African players and coaches who celebrated a landmark victory.
SA Women’s coach, Denver Wannies, was understandably a happy man afterwards: “We worked very hard on our preparations for this game during the week. We knew coming into the competition that there would be certain matches we would be targeting, and this was one of those. On the day it worked out for us,” said Wannies.
“We managed to hold our structure very well in this match, and that is something we have spoken a lot about. What is important now is that we continue to working on improving our discipline and our penalty count for the final game this coming Saturday.”
Defending champions England scored three tries in the second half to defeat Canada 22-10. The two teams will play each in the final while SA and USA will battle it out for third spot.
SA Women: Tries: Scheepers, Kula, Felix (2); Penalties: Nojoko (2). USA: Tries: McGee, Lundstrum, Dowty; Conversion: Anderson; Penalties: Anderson (2) South Africa line-up vs. USA:
1. Nedene Botha
2. Pulane Motloung
3. Cebisa Kula
4. Dolly Mavumengwana
5. Nolusindiso Booi
6. Nomathamsanqa, Faleni
7. Mandisa Williams (c)
8. Namhla Siyolo
9. Fundiswa Plaatjie
10. Zandile Nojoko
11. Lusanda Mtiya
12. Daphne Scheepers
13. Ziyanda Tywaleni
14. Gadu Phumeza
15. Yolanda Meiring Replacements: 16. Denita Wentzel
17. Laurian Johannes
18. Onicca Moaga
19. Nwabisa Nwabisa
20. Lamla Momoti
21. Janine Felix
22. Natasha Hoffmeester
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