The Springbok Women on Friday suffered a disappointing 26-3 defeat against Australia in their opening Women’s Rugby World Cup clash at the French Rugby Federation in Marcoussis.
South Africa showed encouraging signs throughout the match, but their struggle to breach Australia’s defensive line combined with penalties conceded and mistakes made at crucial times denied them from starting the tournament on a high note.
Australia had the upper hand in the first 25 minutes as they retained possession and forced the Bok Women to defend for long periods.
This paid off with centre Sharni Williams scoring their first try in the second minute, which fullback Ashleigh Hewson converted. Hewson added two penalties in the next few minutes to stretch their lead to 13-0.
She continued to make her presence felt by scoring the team’s second try of the match as they again opted for pick-and-goes in South Africa’s half, which the talented fullback took advantage of to cross the tryline for an 18-0 lead.
The Springbok Women, however, found their rhythm on attack later in the half and powered their way into Australia’s 22 on a few occasions, but errors denied them from crossing the chalk.
They also tightened up their defence and absorbed the intense pressure applied by Australia, which they maintained for the remainder of the match.
This pressure paid off as scrumhalf Tayla Kinsey opted for a penalty kick in the 31st minute, which she slotted over successfully.
But Australia hit back with a penalty of their own after South Africa found themselves isolated at a ruck, which earned Australia another kickable penalty to take their lead to 21-3.
The team, however, showed their determination to score in the first few seconds of the second half by forcing their way back into Australia’s 22 thanks to a good shove by debutante centre Benele Makwezela over the advantage line, but a penalty conceded at the ruck denied them a possible try.
A yellow card for replacement flank Shona-Leah Weston in the 45th minute for entering a ruck from the side, however, swayed the momentum back into Australia’s favour.
But the team put their bodies on the line on defence and shut out Australia for the full 10 minutes. They supported this with an encouraging effort on attack in which they made good yards and camped in the opposition’s half for several minutes.
Australia were then reduced to 14 players in the 63rd minute for infringing at a ruck, but the Springbok Women were unable to capitalise on this despite trying hard to breach Australia’s defence.
The Wallaroos, however, had the last say as they built on their lead in the 74th minute with a try by Tricia Brown, who took advantage of an overlap out wide to extend their lead to 26-3.
South Africa: Penalty: Tayla Kinsey.
Australia: Tries: Sharni Williams, Ashleigh Hewson, Tricia Brown. Conversion: Ashleigh Hewson. Penalty: Ashleigh Hewson (3).