Bok Women's Sevens go down in Hong Kong final
The South Africans started brightly in the final against China as Unathi Mali picked up a loose pass and scored, with Zenay Jordaan adding the conversion to secure a 7-0 lead
Congratulations to China, they were definitely the most consistent team over the two days
The Springbok Women's Sevens hopes of earning core status on the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series were dashed in Hong Kong on Friday after the last hurdle proved too steep with the side going down 31-14 against China in the final.
Twelve teams battled it out for one spot in the 2018/19 World Series, but after defeating Wales and Kenya on their way to the final, South Africa could only manage second place.
Springbok Women's Sevens coach Paul Delport commended China on their achievement and said: “Congratulations to China, they were definitely the most consistent team over the two days.
“With regard to our team, I feel for the squad because it was not due to a lack of effort. We were beaten by a better side in the final.
“It is tough because we really wanted this, and unfortunately we came up short at the same stage last year.”
Delport suggested a bigger squad to work with and more tournaments as potential moves to improve his team’s competitiveness.
“The reality is that every year we don’t play on the circuit we are falling further behind, so this result was disappointing from that perspective as well.”
The coach, however, said the team will lift their chins as they depart for the Gold Coast on Sunday, where they will compete in the Commonwealth Games.
“It is a first for the team, so they will have to get up and be ready again,” said Delport. “This will also be the first time we go to back-to-back tournaments, so it will be a learning curve.
“You can only improve by playing against the best teams on a regular basis, and that is what we are looking to achieve.”
The South Africans started brightly in the final against China as Unathi Mali picked up a loose pass and scored, with Zenay Jordaan adding the conversion to secure a 7-0 lead.
The Chinese scored from the restart and then capitalised on numerous loose passes from their opponents to keep the scoreboard ticking.
A good burst by Megan Comley resulted in another converted try for South Africa, and with three minutes to play, Delport’s charges looked for a late comeback from 14-24 down.
However, it was not to be, as China scored two more tries to book their spot on the World Series in 2018/19.
In the semi-final against Kenya, South Africa secured a narrow 12-7 victory, while they powered their way to a 26-0 win against Wales in the quarter-final.
It took a sudden-death extra time try by Zinhle Ndawonde to clinch the win over Kenya after the television match official confirmed that her outstretched effort indeed touched the tryline.
Earlier in the match a converted try by Jordaan edged the Bok Women’s Sevens ahead with three minutes to play. Kenya, however, struck back with a long-range effort of their own to draw level, resulting in extra time.
In their opening match of the day against Wales, South Africa made a strong start in the opening seven minutes as they scored two good tries to take a 14-0 lead at the break.
Marithy Pienaar ran strongly to score the first try, while a solid run by captain Zintle Mpupha resulted in Pienaar handing Nadine Roos the final pass to score. Jordaan converted both tries.
Another wave of attacks by the South Africans in the second half forced Wales to make mistakes and concede a yellow card, and this paved the way for Jordaan to dive over in the corner.
Veroeshka Grain then sealed the deal with a strong surge down the middle of the field, with Chané Stadler converting for a solid 26-0 win.
South Africa v Wales - Tries: Marithy Pienaar, Nadine Roos, Zenay Jordaan, Veroeshka Grain. Conversions: Zenay Jordaan (2), Chané Stadler.
South Africa v Kenya - Tries: Zenay Jordaan, Zinhle Ndawonde. Conversion: Zenay Jordaan.
South Africa v China - Tries: Unathi Mali, Megan Comley. Conversions: Zenay Jordaan (2).
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Rugby Union.
Note to editors: An audio note of Springbok Women's Sevens coach Paul Delport commenting on his team’s performance at the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong (https://bit.ly/2qdZt0m), and a rights-free image of the team are attached. Photo Credit: World Rugby.