South Africa secured their return to the Women’s Rugby World Cup stage after lifting the inaugural Rugby Africa Women’s Cup title in Brakpan on Saturday.
The Springbok Women ran in seven tries at Bosman Stadium while keeping Kenya scoreless to end the four-team tournament with three wins out of three.
Victory means that South Africa have become the eighth team to qualify for New Zealand 2021, and will make their fourth Women's Rugby World Cup appearance after playing in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 events.
Kenya’s hopes are not over after the 39-0 defeat, the Lionesses finished as runners-up and will contest a play-off against the winner of South American qualifier with the victor heading to the global repechage that will determine the final qualifier.
In the day’s other game Madagascar and Uganda played out a 15-15 draw.
SOUTH AFRICA 39-0 KENYA
In the words of coach Stanley Raubenheimer, South Africa decided not to enter a team into Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 qualifying in order to get their “house in order”.
And it looks as though the intervening years have been well spent as the Springbok Women built on heavy wins over Madagascar (73-0) and Uganda (89-5) with a four-try opening 40 minutes in Brakpan.
The hosts struck early when centre Zintle Mpupha finished well following a flowing team move, scrum-half Tayla Kinsey added a touchline conversion.
Lindelwa Gwala was the next South African to get her name on the scoresheet as the hooker found some space down the blindside following a lineout and finished well.
Kinsey added an even tougher conversion, and soon had a try of her own – although she was unable to add the extras – as she snuck over in the right corner.
South Africa scored a fourth try well before half-time when winger Snenhlanhla Shozi finished another good team move in the left corner.
Kinsey missed the conversion, before Kenya fly-half Grace Adhiambo saw her attempted drop-kick penalty come up short to leave the score at 24-0 at the break.
Kenya enjoyed their best spell of possession either side of half-time but rarely looked like breaching a South African defence that had conceded just one try in the tournament.
And as the Lionesses tired their hosts took full advantage. Impressive number eight Aseza Hele bulldozed her way through two tackles to score her side’s fifth try having picked the ball up from the back a five-metre scrum.
The match had long been won but Shozi and Mpupha both ran in late unconverted tries as South Africa booked their ticket to New Zealand 2021 in some style.
“I am very pleased for the players, they worked very hard to achieve this. They put in a great effort and they deserve this achievement,” said Raubenheimer.
“We scored a number of tries in our three matches in this tournament, so we are on the right track in that regard, but I think we can improve on our accuracy on attack, and I also think we need to work on our defence and kicking game. The good thing is that we will be able to work on those areas in the next few matches.
“It certainly helps to qualify so well in advance. We didn’t participate in the 2017 World Cup, so we need to ensure that we reach the current world standards.”
UGANDA 15-15 MADAGASCAR
The day’s opening match ended all square as Uganda and Madagascar played out a draw at Bosman Stadium.
Neither side came into day three with any hope of qualifying for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 but that did not impact on the competitive nature of the contest.
Madagascar, who began the tournament as something of an unknown quantity having not played international 15s before, started in the ascendancy but were unable to turn territory into points as Fabrina Holiniaina missed a presentable penalty before Tiana Razanamahefa knocked on having burst through a gap.
Uganda made Madagascar pay for their profligacy before half-time when full-back Juliet Nandawula touched down in the right corner following good work from Peace Lekuru.
Mary Kyoita added the conversion but the Lady Cranes’ seven-point lead was cut to four before the break as Holiniaina got Madagascar on the scoreboard from the kicking tee.
And Madagascar took the lead shortly after half-time as Monica Rasoloniaina profited from a good team move to score in the left corner.
Holiniaina missed the conversion, which allowed Kyoita to nudge Uganda back in front from the tee but the Lady Cranes’ lead last just a few moments.
Patricia Ravololonirina produced a moment of magic to put Madagascar in front and having touched down under the posts Holiniaina converted to ensure the lead was five points.
Samiya Ajikoru was then on hand to take a pass from Uganda captain Winnie Atyang and level the scores. However, centre Ajikoru missed the drop-kicked conversion and while Uganda finished on top they were unable to find another score.
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