SOUTH AFRICA 5
SCOTLAND got their season under way in convincing fashion this afternoon, scoring eight tries and showing they mean business under new head coach Philip Doyle. Ranked 12th in the world, a place behind their hosts, the Scots dominated from first to last at the City Park Stadium in Athlone.
Full-back Chloe Rollie, winger Rhona Lloyd and replacement back Abi Evans all scored two tries apiece in the 47-5 triumph, while winger Megan Gaffney and centre Lisa Thomson also touched down. Stand-off Sarah Law converted two of the tries and added a penalty.
Thomson had originally been named on the wing, but she reverted to her customary position when captain Helen Nelson had to pull out due to illness. Gaffney came on to the wing, while Annabel Sergeant moved up on to the bench. Rachel Malcolm took over as captain, although Nelson is expected to be fit to play in Saturday’s second Test at the same venue.
The backs got all the points, and scrum-half Mhairi Grieve and centre Hannah Smith were constant dangers in addition to their team-mates who scored. But the forwards were just as impressive, in particular tighthead prop Mairi Forsyth, second-row Louise McMillan and No 8 Jade Konkel, while Christine Belisle came off the bench for her first cap.
Scotland lost all seven internationals they played in 2018/19, defeats in Italy and Spain being followed up by a whitewash in the Six Nations, which led to head coach Shade Munro leaving his post. Since then Irishman Doyle has come in with the aim of getting the team to the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand – and going by this performance he has made an instant impact.
“I thought the girls were excellent in the game,” Doyle said. “They really executed the game plan perfectly. We knew what South Africa would bring to the match, but we knew that if we could play with pace and keep on attacking their outside edge then the chances would come.
“The way we took our tries was excellent and I must say attack coach Bryan Easson is doing a fine job in that area. We have some classy outside backs and if we can get them the platform to perform then they can cause problems. The way the forwards and the backs linked and supported each other pleased me, and I thought that the lineout worked very well given that we haven’t had much time to work on it together as yet.
“All in all, a brilliant team performance with improvements to make. I’m excited about what this group can do.”
Rollie opened the scoring with just a couple of minutes on the clock after a penalty had been sent to touch and McMillan won the lineout. Smith made the second, finished off by Lloyd, and this time Law added the two points.
The visitors capitalised further after South African centre Chumisa Qawe was yellow-carded for the second of two high tackles. Thomson was the provider this time, putting Lloyd through for her second score, taking the tally to 17-0. Late in the half, Rollie got her own second from a Lloyd assist to take the score at the break to 22-0.
Scotland got the second half off to a perfect start when the ball was shipped out to the right wing after Smith had stripped the ball in midfield. The scoring pass looked to have bounced forward, but Gaffney played on and ran in from 20 metres for try No 5.
South Africa did get themselves on the scoreboard after 46 minutes when a powerful run by Aseza Hele saw her go over for a try, but that was as good as it got for the hosts. They were soon a player down again when Phelisa Mrwebi was sinbinned for not rolling away, and from the resultant penalty Law made it 30-5 with a good kick.
Thomson soon made use of the extra space to burst through for her side’s sixth try, converted by Law, and then substitute Abi Evans completed the scoring with a try a dozen minutes from time and then another in the dying seconds.
South Africa: V Maqholo; N Mabenge, C Qawe, A Ngwevu, P Nyanda; A Minnaar, T Kinsey; Y Ngxingolo, L Gwala, B Latsha (captain), C Adonis, K Dludla, P Mrwebi, N Mathe, A Hele. Substitutes: A Geswind, N Mankayi, O Jita, P Pegram, E Dickson, U Tose, S Mtshazi, C Qawe.
Scotland: C Rollie; M Gaffney, H Smith, L Thomson, R Lloyd; S Law, M Grieve; L Cockburn, L Skeldon, L Forsyth, E Wassell, L McMillan, R Malcolm (captain), R McLachlan, J Konkel. Subs: J Rettie, P Muzambe, M Kennedy, C Belisle, S Cattigan, J Maxwell, A Evans, A Sergeant.
Scorers – South Africa: Try: Hele.
Scotland: Tries: Rollie 2, Lloyd 2, Gaffney, Thomson, Evans 2. Pen: Law. Cons: Law 2.
Scoring sequence: (South Africa first): 0-5, 0-10, 0-12, 0-17,0-22 half-time, 0-27, 5-27, 5-30, 5-35, 5-37, 5-42. 5-47.
Yellow cards: South Africa: Qawe 12, Mrwebi 55.
Referee: A Luciano (USA).