Cape Town - The Springbok Women booked their place in the 2021 Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand with a 39-0 victory against Kenya in the deciding match of the qualifiers at the Bosman Stadium in Brakpan.
The win marked a clean sweep for the Springbok Women in the competition and wrapped up a full-house of points from their three matches following 89-5 and 73-0 victories against Uganda and Madagascar earlier in the tournament.
The Springbok Women ran Kenya ragged early on, which saw them earn their fourth try early in the second quarter and take a 24-0 lead at the break, and they built on this is in a competitive second stanza in which they added three more tries to their tally for the 39-0 win.
In the other match, Madagascar and Uganda played to 15-15 draw in a gripping encounter, in which both teams ran hard on attack and defended with intent.
"I am very pleased for the players, they worked very hard to achieve this. They put in a great effort and they deserve this achievement," delighted coach Stanley Raubenheimer said after the match.
He was pleased with the quality of his team's performance throughout the qualifiers, but he said there was room for improvement as they prepare to face Spain once and Scotland twice in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town respectively in September and October.
"We scored a number of tries in our three matches in this tournament, so we are on the right track in that regard," said Raubenheimer.
"But I think we can improve on our accuracy on attack, and I also think we need to work on our defence and kicking game. The good thing is that we will be able to work on those areas in the next few matches."
Raubenheimer drew comfort from the fact that he had close to two years to prepare his team for the international showpiece down-under, and said: "It will certainly helps to qualify so well in advance. We didn't participate in the 2017 World Cup, so we need to ensure that we reach the current world standards.
"The matches will also offer us an opportunity to experiment against quality teams, who are among the top 10 sides in Europe, and we can also try a few new things against them."
The Springbok Women started the match with a bang, as centre Zintle Mpupha made a good break through the defence at pace in the fourth minute and touched down, and hooker Lindelwa Gwala added their second try minutes later thanks to some encouraging forward play.
The hosts continued to apply pressure as the match progressed thanks to their hard running on attack, and the rewards followed with Tayla Kinsey (scrumhalf) receiving a smart pass out wide with a clear tryline in front of her to score their third try.
Snenhlanhla Shozi (winger) added the bonus-point try early in the second quarter as the team moved the ball wide into space, and this pushed the Springbok Women into a confidence-boosting 24-0 lead.
Kenya fought back with intent before halftime and did well to retain possession and run hard at the home side, but they were denied any points as the Springbok Women's effective defence stood firm.
Kenya stepped up the quality of their attack and defence after the break and they did well to keep the action in the middle of the field for several minutes, but the Springbok Women's determined efforts saw Hele break through for their fifth try in the third quarter to stretch their lead to 29-0.
They continued to make their presence felt in the dying minutes, with replacement scrumhalf Mathrin Simmers taking advantage of an overlap and lock Rights Mkhari forcing her way over the chalk with a minute to play for a convincing 39-0 victory.
The first half between Uganda and Madagascar was hard-fought, with both sides running hard on attack and trying to find gaps in the defence, but their efforts were met by strong resistance as both teams tackled with purpose. Uganda, however, managed to cross the tryline once in the first half, while Madagascar were unsuccessful in their attempts, as handling errors at vital times cost them dearly.
They opted for penalty goals instead to get points on the board, but they only managed to slot over one, which saw them enter the break 7-3 down.
Madagascar built on this minutes into the second half as they capitalised on having an extra player on the field after Uganda received a yellow card, which pushed them into an 8-7 lead, and they added another try several minutes later.
Uganda struck back with a penalty goal and their second try in the fourth quarter, which saw them level the scores at 15-15. The dying minutes were intense as Uganda camped in the opposition's half and tried hard to break the deadlock, but the tenacious defence allowed them to hold on for the draw.
Springbok Women 39 (24) - Tries: Zintle Mpupha, Lindelwa Gwala, Tayla Kinsey, Snenhlanhla Shozi, Aseza Hele, Mathrin Simmers, Rights Mkhari. Conversions: Tayla Kinsey (2).