The Springbok Women’s Sevens hopes of retaining their place as a core team on the 2015/2016 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series were dashed on Sunday as Ireland defeated them 26-14 in the Cup semi-final at the World Series Qualifier in Dublin. South Africa registered its fourth victory in a row in their opening game of the day as they defeated Hong Kong in the Cup Quarter-final, but they went down against Ireland in the semi-final, which denied them from qualifying for the World Series. The team finished off the day with a 12-0 victory against the Netherlands to finish the tournament in third position, but this did little to ease the disappointment of losing out on a World Series spot.
Japan, meanwhile, joined Ireland as the second World Series core team. The Bok Women’s Sevens started the day’s play with a 21-5 victory against Hong Kong, who they also met in the league stages. Mathrin Simmers opened up the scoring in the first half, while flyhalf Zenay Jordaan converted to hand the team a 7-0 lead. Their lead, however, was reduced to 7-5 minutes later as the opposition tried to spread the defence wide and this paid off with a try.
SA speedster Veroeshka Grain had the final say in the half as she made her way through a gap on defence to dash to tryline to hand the team a 14-5 lead. Hong Kong tried hard to make their presence felt in the second half, but the South Africans defended well and managed to shut them out. With the clock winding down, Jordaan opted for a chip and chase, which she gathered for the team’s third try and a 21-5 victory. The win earned them a place in the Cup semi-final against hosts Ireland, who they defeated 12-5 in the pool stages on Saturday.
The Irish struck first a minute-and-a-half into the match as they applied pressure and found space out wide to touch down and added another try soon after as they forced their way through the defence for an encouraging 14-0 lead. Jordaan hit back with a try a little over a minute before half-time after a fantastic break by Grain, but Ireland cancelled this out with another try for a 19-7 lead at the break. Renfred Dazel’s charges came out firing in the second half with Grain scoring in the opening minute after kicking a loose ball into space and pouncing on it over the tryline to reduce the gap to 19-14.
But this was again cancelled out as Ireland crossed the tryline to stretch their lead to 26-14 with three minutes left on the clock. Dazel’s dames tried hard to fight their way back into the match in the dying minutes, but all their efforts were countered by the effective Ireland defence. The defeat ended the team’s hopes of qualifying as a core team on the World Series.
In their final match of the day against the Netherlands, the teams were involved in a tense first half as they threw everything at one another on attack and defence. Such was the closeness of the match the only points scored in the first half was a try by Simmers, who picked up the ball from a ruck and caught the defence off-guard by rushing to the tryline, while Jordaan converted for a 7-0 lead. The team started the second half on a high note with Jordaan finding space out wide to cross the chalk for a 12-0 lead.
Both teams tried hard to add to their score in the remaining minutes of the match, but with the defence holding, neither team was able to add the score, which earned SA the victory.
Springbok Women’s Sevens World Series Qualifier day two results:
SA 21 – 15 Hong Kong (Cup quarter-final)
Ireland 26 – 14 SA (Cup semi-final)
SA 12 – 0 Netherlands (3rd/4th place play-off)
Photo credit: Dom Caton/Fotojump