The Springbok Women on Friday ended their Rugby World Cup warm-up tour on a disappointing note as they suffered a 46-8 defeat against Six Nations champions, France, in Marcoussis. The tour was made possible by a R2,3m grant by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.
The Springbok Women had a slow start to the match as France used their powerful forwards to force their way onto the front foot, which resulted in the visitors defending for most of the half.
The team, however, showed positive signs on attack when their backline received the ball at pace, and they made a handful of big tackles on defence.
But these efforts were not enough to counter the strong French forwards, especially in their red zone with No8 Sati N’Diaye and flank Koumiba Djossouvi scoring tries from scrums.
France’s skilful backs also made their presence felt in the first half as they drew the defenders well and took advantage of the gaps created, which resulted in tries for fullback Jesse Tremouliere, centre Elodie Poublan and wing Marion Lievre.
French flyhalf Christelle Leduff added a penalty to take their score for the half to 34 points. In return the Springbok Women scored a penalty by debutant fullback Cindy Cant.
The Springbok Women, however, stepped up their game in the second half as they showed more grunt on defence and adopted a more direct approach on attack. But a yellow card for prop Portia Jonga for infringing at a breakdown close to the tryline reduced the visitors to 14 players for 10 minutes.
This allowed the hosts to score yet another try by replacement hooker Gaelle Mignot to extend their lead.
The visitors, however, showed their fighting spirit as debutant loose forward Shona-Leah Weston, lock Nolusindiso Booi and centres Veroeshka Grain and Lorinda Brown made a series of line breaks to boost their confidence and momentum. But the team was unable to convert these opportunities into points.
The pressure on attack eventually paid off with a well-worked try by flyhalf Zenay Jordaan in the final quarter, who gathered a switch from captain Lamla Momoti and held off a defender to place the ball over the tryline.
France, however, had the last say as they worked their way into the Springbok Women’s half for another forward-dominated try two minutes from the end.
Commenting on the match, Springbok Women’s coach Lawrence Sephaka said: “France showed today why they are the Six Nations champions and we will certainly take lessons from this match as we continue our preparations for the World Cup. When the team started backing themselves in the second half they had a few great attacking moments and showed a willingness to put their bodies on the line on defence.
“This tour was great for us because the players now know what to expect at the World Cup and they are also familiar with Marcoussis where all our pool matches will be played. This experience was invaluable and we hope the team will take the positives from the tour and become a stronger unit going forward.”
Springbok Women 8 (3) – Try: Zenay Jordaan. Penalty: Cindy Cant
France Women 46 (34) - Tries: Marion Lievre, Safi N’Diaye, Jessy Tremouliere, Koumiba Djossouvi, Elodie Poublan, Gaelle Mignot (2) Conversions: Christelle Leduff (4) Penalty: Christelle Leduff