SOUTH AFRICA 15
SCOTLAND must use their 2-0 series victory in South Africa as a stepping stone to “bigger and better things”, assistant coach Bryan Easson said after this afternoon’s win, which followed Monday’s 47-5 triumph. This game at City Park Stadium in Athlone saw a more sustained challenge from the Springboks than they had mustered in the first Test, but Scotland met that challenge in determined fashion.
No 8 Jade Konkel and winger Rhona Lloyd led the way with two tries apiece, while centre Lisa Thomson and winger Abi Evans also crossed. Stand-off Sarah Law kicked three conversions and replacement Helen Nelson got another to continue Philip Doyle’s winning start to his reign as head coach.
Scotland now return home to start the build-up to a training match with Ireland later this month, and then have two home Autumn Tests, against Wales and Japan, in November. Certainly they have plenty of positives to build on ahead of those games, with the forwards having fronted up twice against a physical South Africa side who have already qualified for the World Cup.
Experienced players such as Lana Skeldon, Emma Wassell, captain Rachel Malcolm, Konkel and Law have led well on this trip. Doyle and Easson will also have been pleased to give Christine Belisle her first two international caps and had unused players Sarah Denholm and Anne Young on the tour to get used to the environment.
“This week has been about a whole lot of learning,” Easson said. “We have been in each other’s company for eight days and the squad has moved on immeasurably in that period.
“The girls have been able to work hard as individuals and as units and they put in two great performances, but the thing now is that we must use this trip as a springboard to move onto bigger and better things – the results will mean nothing if we don’t. We are really going to try and get better and better ahead of the hit-out with Ireland and the two Autumn Tests.
“The girls will take a lot of confidence from this trip, and so they should after a tough year last year, because winning two matches away from home is never easy. It is now our job as a management team to keep the feet on the ground and keep the girls working hard on their skills and their strength and conditioning so that we can keep things moving forward.”
Law was off target with an early attempt at a penalty, but a knock-on by the defence gave the visitors a five-metre scrum. Scotland got a good shove on, winning a penalty, and Konkel took it quickly to dive over for the try.
South Africa went straight down the other end and nearly scored a try of their own, but a combination of good Scots defence and a knock-on by skipper Babalwa Latsha saw them remain scoreless. Scotland’s second try was similar to their first, with Thomson being the one this time to show great initiative to take a quick tap penalty from five metres out to go over. Law converted.
Attack turned to defence for a while as the visitors won a penalty on their own line when, after a number of pick and goes, it looked as if the hosts were going to score. Then, with half-time approaching, Konkel went over from close range after hooker Skeldon had gone close.
South Africa did open their account just before the interval when winger Shuneez van Heerden kicked a penalty to make it 19-3, but Scotland reasserted their dominance in the early stages of the second 40. Once again Skeldon went close and, as the ball was shipped wide, good hands from centre Hannah Smith and full-back Chloe Rollie saw Evans go over for her third try of the tour.
South Africa got their first try of the game quarter of an hour into the second half when replacement Aphiwe Ngwevu went over from short range with fellow sub Tayla Kinsey converting to make it 24-10. Scotland responded with an absolute cracker from Lloyd, the Loughborough Lightning flyer showing great pace to run in a try from her own half. Law converted and it was 31-10 with 20 minutes remaining.
South Africa scored their second try through replacement Aseza Hele to cut the visitors’ lead to 16 points, and in the closing stages they kept battering at the Scots line. But right on time a great turnover allowed Smith to feed Lloyd, who once again showed the defence a clean pair of heels to go over for the final try. Tour captain Nelson’s conversion was the last kick of the game.
South Africa: C Qawe; P Nyanda, C Qawe, S Mtshazi, S van Heerden; A Minnaar, U Tose; Y Ngxingolo, A Geswind, B Latsha©, C Adonis, K Dludla, P Mrwebi, N Mathe, E Dickson. Subs: L Gwala, N Mankayi, O Jita, P Pegram, A Hele, T Kinsey, A Ngwevu, N Mabenge.
Scotland: C Rollie; A Evans, H Smith, L Thomson, R Lloyd; S Law, J Maxwell; L Cockburn, L Skeldon, M Forsyth, E Wassell, S Cattigan, R Malcolm©, L McMillan, J Konkel. Subs: J Rettie, P Muzambe, M Kennedy, C Belisle, R McLachlan, M Grieve, S Denholm, H Nelson.
Scorers – South Africa: Tries: Ngwevu, Hele. Pen: van Heerden. Con: Kinsey.
Scotland: Tries: Konkel 2, Thomson, Evans, Lloyd 2. Cons: Law 3, Nelson.
Scoring sequence: (South Africa first): 0-5, 0-7, 0-12, 0-14, 0-19, 3-19 half-time, 3-24, 8-24, 10-24, 10-29, 10-31, 15-31, 15-36, 15-38.
Referee: A McLachlan (Australia).