The Springbok Women on Saturday finished the Women’s Rugby World Cup pool stages on a disappointing note as mistakes at crucial times and poor decision-making cost them a 35-3 defeat against Wales.
The team showed good signs on attack in the opening 20 minutes and in the opening exchanges after half time, but their confidence took a knock as Wales capitalised on most of their point-scoring chances throughout the match.
South Africa were dealt an injury blow in the second minute as flank Andrea Mentoor picked up a knee injury, which made way for her replacement Vuyolwethu Vazi to take to the field.
Despite this the team maintained their momentum and did well to string together phases and stretch Wales wide on attack.
Wales, however, opened up the scoring in the third minute with a penalty by centre Robyn Wilkins, but South Africa hit back with a penalty three minutes later by flyhalf Zandile Nojoko.
Nojoko had an opportunity to slot over another penalty in the 10th minute after an encouraging run of play by the team in which they dominated territory and possession, but Nojoko’s attempt went wide.
The team, however, allowed Wales to force their way back into the match after another penalty at a ruck allowed Wilkins to kick her second penalty the 21st minute.
Wales flyhalf Elinor Snowsill added three points to their score in the 28th minute with a timely drop goal after battling to breach South Africa’s defence despite making several yards on attack.
The opposition’s ability to power their way over the advantage line combined with SA’s struggle to make effective one-on-one tackles finally paid off in the 38th minute after winning a turnover from a scrum, which No8 Sioned Harries picked up to score the first try of the match for 16-3 lead.
Nojoko had another opportunity to reduce the gap before the break with a shot at goal, but her attempt again proved unsuccessful.
South Africa came out firing after the break and again managed to apply early pressure on Wales, which earned them two penalties minutes apart. But they opted to attack and worked their way to the tryline, but lost possession, which denied them a possible try.
They wasted another two chances to score in the 49th and 52nd minute respectively after knocking on the ball with momentum favouring them.
That, however, proved to be the last opportunity South Africa created as Wales again found their rhythm on attack and retained possession until the end of the match.
Their effective a pick-and-go’s earned them their second try of the match in the 58th minute to stretch their lead to 23-3.
The last 10 minutes was particularly memorable for Wales No8 Harries as she continued to make her presence felt, which earned her a hat-trick thanks to further tries in the 73rd and 80th minute and a bonus point 35-3 victory for the team.
South Africa (3) –Penalty: Zandile Nojoko
Wales (16) – Tries: Sioned Harris (3), Jenny Hawkins. Conversions: Robyn Wilkins (3). Penalties: Robyn Wilkins (2). Drop Goal: Elinor Snowsill.