A clinical first half, followed by a less convincing second gave Springbok Women interim Head Coach, Louis Koen, some points to ponder following a 48-0 win over Kenya at the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup tournament in Madagascar on Wednesday.
The eight-try romp means that the SA side is yet to concede a try in the tournament after two matches, following an 87-0 victory over Cameroon on Saturday, and that is something Koen felt was an important building block for the side.
“We faced a well-coached Kenya side with some very good runners, especially in their backline, but they could not penetrate our defence and that was heart-warming for me as a coach, especially as we are tweaking our defensive system and that process has not been completed,” Koen said.
The Bok Women conceded several penalties in the second half and a rash of yellow cards, resulting in them playing with 13 players at one stage.
“Even then, we managed to keep Kenya out, which showed the heart of the players,” said Koen. “We also lost Rights Mkhari shortly after I cleared the bench and that meant that Chumisa Qawe had to move from centre to flank in order to have a full pack. But despite those setbacks, I thought we defended with real heart and that is great to see.”
Koen said the number of penalties conceded at line-out time was a lesson learnt.
“We could not adjust to the way the referee interpreted the line-out mauls in the second half and we conceded too many penalties. We’ll learn from that.
“maul was good in the first half, but then we were penalised in the second and we did not do enough to change our behaviour.”
For Koen, the eight tries were good reward: “One always wants to score more tries, but some of those were really well executed and I can only praise the players for making the right calls. We are always striving for more and have made good strides so far on tour.”
Qawe was full of smiles on the effort of the team as well: “We did well, and I am proud of the girls. To play with 13 against 15 was not easy, but we soaked up the pressure at that time and they could not cross our line. That was great. At that time, I was playing flank, something I’ve never done. I did ok, but that is a very tiring position,” Qawe joked.
The backline was again sharp on attack and scored seven of the eight tries, with Qawe bagging one herself.
“The foundation was laid very well by our pack, with the backs getting front-foot ball and thriving. There is not much more one can ask for,” she said.
The match saw Amber Schonert becoming the seventh debutant for the Springbok Women this year and the prop was very pleased at the end of the game.
“It went by so quickly. I was on the plane from the UK just over a week ago, a couple of days in camp and then off to Madagascar. Then I was named on the bench and suddenly in the second half, it was my turn. The reality then struck that I am about to play for my country in a test match,” she recalled.
“I just wanted to dominate that first scrum and thought I did and then the rest went by very fast. That will be a lasting memory, as will the heat, it was very hot for me out there today coming from the UK recently. I am just very proud now, the impact of it all will sink in later,” the Cheltenham Tigers player said.
The huge crowd impressed her. “It’s amazing to see how they support women’s rugby and that is fantastic to see how the women’s game is growing all over the world.”
The Springbok Women face Madagascar in the final match of the tournament at Stade Maki in Antananarivo on Sunday.