The SA Women’s Under-20 team started their IRB Nations Cup campaign on a high at Trent College, Long Eaton in London, on Wednesday night as they survived a late comeback by hosts England for a 24-22 victory.
The first half was an arm wrestle as the teams threw everything at each other on attack and defence.
England, however, took a narrow 5-3 at the break, thanks to a try in the 11th minute, while SA’s only points were compliments of a penalty by fullback Kirsten Conrad.
But the visitors took control of proceedings in the second half with Conrad slotting over her second penalty, which was followed minutes later by the first of the team’s three tries by centre Ntombifuthi Sibiloane.
Right wing Bulela Qwane and flank Estha Mahlangu were the other try scorers. This dominant spell earned the team an encouraging 21-10 lead.
England, however, fought back with intent which earned them two tries, one of which was converted, to force them into a narrow 22-21 lead.
But this was short-lived as a late penalty by Conrad sealed the 24-22 victory for SA.
Women’s Under-20 coach Hendrik Pieterse was delighted with the victory and said: “I am proud of the team. Our goal was to start the tournament on a high and the ladies showed great character achieve that. It was particularly encouraging to see the team score three tries, and I am pleased that they worked together to put us in a position to slot over the last penalty for the victory. This will certainly set us in good stead as we prepare for the clash against the USA.”
SA will face the USA on Sunday and Canada on Wednesday in their remaining pool matches, before featuring in either the final or third and fourth place playoff of the quadrangular series on July 21.