The Springbok Women on Sunday retained their 10th place finish in the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France following a 36-0 defeat against Spain in their final match at the French Rugby Federation in Marcoussis. Turnovers, mistakes at crucial times, and missed tackles again let South Africa down in the clash, which denied them an opportunity to improve on their 10th place finish in the 2010 showpiece. South Africa applied good pressure on Spain in the first few minutes as they retained possession and put together phases.
They created an early opportunity to score a possible try with fullback Zandile Nojoko kicking a fantastic grubber, but Spain won the turnover and took control on attack. Spain’s defence held for the remainder of the half and they supported this with a strong performance in the scrums and at the breakdowns, which placed them on the front foot. Their determined efforts at the rucks paid off in the 15th minute as they were awarded a penalty, which scrumhalf Patricia Garcia slotted over for a 3-0 lead.
South Africa tried hard to force their way back into Spain’s half by retaining possession for long periods, while flyhalf Zenay Jordaan opted to kick in behind the opposition’s defence to gain ground. But with momentum favouring Spain, wing Eli Martinez gathered a quick pass from a ruck which caught the Springbok Women off-guard to cross the tryline for their first try of the match. Spain extended their score to 17-0 in the 32nd minute after spreading the ball wide to centre Barbara Pla, who out-sprinted three defenders to get to the tryline for the their second five-pointer of the day.
South Africa again came out strongly in the second half and retained possession for several minutes, but they waste another possible opportunity to score in the 10th minute after conceding a breakdown penalty. Spain used this opportunity well by opting for their solid phase-play, which allowed them to camp in South Africa’s half. With their strong forwards dominating they opted for pick-and-go’s, and this paid off with hooker Aroa Gonzales crossing the tryline for their third try in the 63rdminute and a 24-0 lead. Spain continued to dominate territory and possession in the final quarter, and despite SA’s determined efforts to shut them out on defence, they were unable to reverse the damage done by Spain earlier in the match.
The pressure on South Africa intensified in the last eight minutes as replacement loose forward Shona-Leah Weston received a yellow card for tripping a player, and with numbers in Spain’s favour, Gonzalez and Martinez crossed the tryline in the dying minutes to secure an emphatic 36-0 victory.