Cardiff Late Show Not Quite Enough For Bok Women

 

A late surge by the Springbok Women proved a little late for their ambitions to beat Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in Cardiff on Saturday as two tries in the last five minutes was not enough to prevent a 29-19 defeat in the second game of their November Series 2021 tour.

The two tries, scored in spectacular fashion, demonstrated the potential of the team, added to a try earlier in the same half, and put into perspective the poor opening half an hour for the Bok Women, which saw them 17-0 down. From that point onwards, the gap was always going to be a tough one to overhaul and when Wales scored a third maul try an hour into the game, the result was confirmed for the home side.

Nolusindiso Booi and her team mates deserve credit however as they refused to give up and will look at the final two tries with great satisfaction.

The first half is one that the South Africans would probably rather forget, especially the first 30 minutes. They were slow out of the blocks to say the least.

The Welsh had a clear intent to please the crowd and ran straight and hard. They looked set for the perfect start, but a crucial turnover by Dumke gave the visitors some breathing space.

The Welsh were unrelenting though, feasting off South African penalties and the inability of the South African team to clear their lines.

From one such penalty - at the scrum - the home side kicked to the corner and with a perfectly executed drive saw hooker Carys Phillips dotting down. Flyhalf Elinor Snowsill kicked a great conversion to put her side up 7-0 after as many minutes.

The nervous start for South Africa continued after conceding the early momentum. Passes refused to go to hand on attack and that gave Wales good counter-attacking platforms.

A penalty conceded near the SA line gave Wales another option for points but they opted for a scrum five meters out. That proved a good call; a strong scrum had the visitors in serious trouble, allowing scrumhalf Ffion Lewis to all but walk over the line. Showsill converted from right in front as the scoreline continued to keep pace with the minutes gone at 14-0.

South Africa started to get some momentum, but handling errors remained the biggest challenge, not the Welsh defenders. They were slowly getting some shape back into their game and an injury to Yonela Ngxingolo after 29 minutes saw her being replaced at prop by Asithandile Ntoyanto. The latter made an instant difference and eased the scrum pressures, while making some good ball carries.

The error rate of South Africa remained far too high though, and they battled to clear their lines and get out of their red zone. Snowsill kicked a penalty after 30 minutes, but the tide was turning in terms of possession as the Bok Women started to claw their way back into the game.

A good spell by South Africa, breaching the Welsh 22 at least three times, did not yield the desired result, but at least showed some way into the Welsh underbelly. Lusanda Dumke had a wonderful solo run in the dying second of the half, but her support arrived too late and the effort came to nothing.

The second half saw Unam Tose replacing Tayla Kinsey at scrumhalf and Roseline Botes on at hooker for Lindelwa Gwala. Catha Jacobs was also an early injury replacement as Sinazo Mcatshulwa was helped off the field early in the second half.

Wales again had a bright start to the half and the South Africans were under severe pressure. Their defence held well initially, but Philips was mauled over to take the lead to 22-0.

From the kick-off the ball was kept alive well by the visitors and Nomawethu Mabenge scored in the corner after a delightful run. Zenay Jordaan converted and suddenly there was a spring in the step for the team in green and gold.

Jordaan also found some gaps in the Welsh defence and launched some prosing attacks. From one such, Chumisa Qawe made many metres, but possession and the opportunity for a second try was lost.

The visiting backs were starting to find cracks in the Welsh defence. Qawe was replaced by Libbie Janse van Rensburg in the midfield, but a seatbelt tackle by Unam Tose pulled back the SA effort. Attacking winger Simamkele Namba also came onto the field in place of Eloise Webb, but her role was soon reverted to a defensive one as the Welsh piled on the pressure.

Philips got her hat-trick, again from close range and the lead was back to more than 20 points when Snowsill kicked the conversion for a 29-7 lead.

Tose came back with the scoreboard looking worse for wear and when Mabenge cried off due to injury, lock Lerato Makua came on as a wing, making an unlikely debut for South Africa.

A delightful team try by Zintle Mpupha under the sticks followed. Numerous offloads, some industrious running by Nadine Roos, among others, saw Mpupha dotting  down for a converted try and a 29-14 scoreline.

The last try of the match was another beauty for South Africa and Libbie Janse van Rensburg ran 40 meters to score near the end and cut the lead back to ten points.

A little too late, but a fine way to end the game for the South Africans. 

Scorers:
Wales: Tries: Carys Phillips (3), Ffion Lewis, Conversions: Elinor Snowsill (3). Penalty: Elinor Snowsill.
South Africa: Tries: Nomawethu Mabenge, Zintle Mpupha, Libbie Janse van Rensburg. Conversions: Zenay Jordaan (2).

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