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Rugby Africa’s Women Cup: S...

Rugby Africa’s Women Cup: SA Retain 2024 Cup Against Never-Saw-Die Madagascar

Before a high, excited, and ultimately proud crowd at the Stade Makis in Antananarivo, a resolute and much-improved Madagascar made the South African team work hard for their 46-17 victory.
The Springbok secured their spot for the 2025 Women’s World Cup in England and the WXV 2 tournament in the Western Cape scheduled for October 2024.
With two runaway wins in both their previous matches, Madagascar’s home team defended their hearts out and did some impressive things on the attack.
The clear improvement in the home team’s play from previous rounds and last year’s tournament was something that augers well for their future. In the second half, the Lady Makis scored two tries to South Africa’s three – no mean feat at all!

The Springboks started with a monster scrum and didn’t let up for most of the match. The backline also showed their faces and nearly also looked threatening when they got going. But there seemed to be something missing.
The strong, swirling south-easter, a constant factor on all three match days, cannot be blamed for the many South African errors on attack. Despite five very good tries in the first half, there were too many wasted opportunities with poor passes and options costing the Boks chances to impose themselves.
Madagascar, although outplayed, did launch a few first-half attacks of their own, and South Africa were at times stretched to break their attacks down.
• It took only ten minutes for South Africa to score with wing Veroeshka Grain going over in the corner after some good switching play from the South African backs. Jakkie Cilliers, who again struggled somewhat with her kicking in the wind, converted from touch (7-0).

Then storming interplay and a good maul saw flanker Lusanda Dumke go over, followed by the again impressive newcomer wing Sikholiwe Mdletshe’s two tries in four minutes. At 22-0, the Springboks were in control.
However, the initial jitters of the occasion seemed to make way for a more purposeful and complete game by Madagascar. Six minutes later hooker Nomenjanahary Aina Rakotozafy scored after good pressure from her home team.
Momentum had seemingly changed, and the yellow card to their scrumhalf Tayla Kinsey who was penalised for a deliberate knock-on, put South Africa under more pressure.
But Cilliers added a try just before halftime and the score was 27-5 at the break. Just after the restart.  Dumke got her second and Cilliers converted to make it 34-5.

With the forwards getting some fresh legs shortly after the break, Madagascar was on a role with some committed and at times threatening attacks. But Cilliers scored South Africa’s seventh try from a good attack out wide and converted to make it 41-5.
Home flyhalf Marie Sophie Razafiarisoa scored a brilliant inspiring the large crowd to cheer their team’s good performance. Even then Madagascar was not done, with flanker Oliviane Yvanah Andriatsilavina scoring just before the final whistle to offset the try by replacement South Africa prop Asithandile Ntoyanto.

SA Women 46 (27)
 – Tries: Veroeshka Grain, Lusanda Dumke (2), Sikholiwe Mdletshe (2), Jakkie Cilliers (2), Asithandile Ntoyanto. Conversions: Cilliers (3).
Madagascar 17 (5) – Tries: Nomenjanahary Aina Rakotozafy, Marie Sophie Razafiarisoa, Oliviane Yvanah Andriatsilavina. Conversion: Tiana Jinah Razanamahefa.

Kenya Clinch Third Place After Cameroon Squanders Chances

In the first match of round three of the Rugby Africa Women’s Rugby Cup tournament at Stade Makis in Antananarivo, Kenya was under the pump for extended periods, particularly during the second half of their match against Cameron.
In the end, Kenya won by an impressive-looking score of 39-17 which however flattered them, was also brought about by too many unforced mistakes from Cameroon.
The victory gave Kenya third place in the four-team tournament.
With a lead of 27-5 at halftime, Kenya were comfortably ahead. Kenya’s Lionesses stretched their lead by a further 12 points in the first 12 minutes after halftime, courtesy of Rose Otiena and Diana Aino.

But whether that made Kenya over-confident or woke Cameroon up to the reality that they were in trouble, it was the yellow-clad side that then took control. They still opted for scrums instead of penalties and took the ball wide when they could. They were suddenly dangerous on attack, and suddenly a real threat to Kenya, despite twice losing the ball over the try line.
Although this was probably Cameroon’s best performance of the tournament with plenty of future promise in their improvement not only in this tournament but also since last year, they have to rid themselves of simply too many handling errors and improve on their options.
It was also somewhat baffling why, as the attacking side and with Kenya seemingly tiring, they opted to kick to the posts with two penalties in the Kenya 22 when their attack showed good potential and the score was 34-5 in Kenya’s favor.

One of the penalties succeeded, but it took them 31 minutes of their dominant second half to add to their score through a try by Teclaire  Marlyse Endall Nkouane. Instead, two possible tries with Kenya on the defensive may have put Kenya under scoreboard pressure earlier on.

But for support, defense, and sheer determination, Cameroon cannot be faulted.
And Kenya? The were not at their best, took their foot off the pedal but still scored six tries to three.
Kenya, who battled to keep out Cameroon for the greater part of the second half, scored three tries after Cameroon’s best 20, 25 minutes of the tournament.
It would be interesting to follow the two sides’ prowess as they work to get even better. As Kenya coach Paul Murunga warned,  the Lionesses will start increasing their top-class numbers to keep up with the growth of rugby across the globe.

Scorers –

Kenya 39 (22) – Tries: Rose Otiena (2), Terry Ayesa, Helen Aching, Diana Awino, Fai Levoi. Conversions: Diana Omosso (3). Penalty: Anne Ochieng.
Cameroon 17 (5) – Tries: Teclaire Marlyse Endalle Nkouane, Marie Clair Nsie. Conversions: Mimmosette Mouto. Penalty: Priso Ndingo.