South Africa and Kazakhstan reach WRWC 2014

(IRB.COM) Saturday 7 September 2013
 South Africa and Kazakhstan reach WRWC 2014
Kazakhstan will represent Asia at Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 in France

South Africa and Kazakhstan have claimed the final two places available at Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 in France after overcoming Uganda and Japan respectively in contrasting fashion on Saturday.

The Springbok Women booked their place in style with a convincing 63-3 victory in the African qualifier at the Buffalo City Municipal Stadium in East London, while Kazakhstan had to survive a late rally by Japan to triumph 25-23 in the final of the Asian qualifier.

South Africa's win was the biggest in the history of their women's team and reaffirmed their status as the top African team. It also secured their place at a third successive Women's Rugby World Cup.

The Springbok Women delivered on their goal to put pressure on the visitors early on, and were particularly effective at stretching Uganda's defence and finding space out wide, which allowed them to run riot on attack.

Centre Mathrin Simmers scored the first of her team's 11 tries in the opening 10 minutes to signal their intent early on.

Further tries from Marlien Cronje (2), Dolly Mavumengwana , Zandile Nojoko (2), Zenay Jordaan, Natasha Hofmeester, Asithandile Ntoyanto (2) and Nwabisa Ngxatu followed over the 80 minutes.

Uganda did not give up and used their powerful forwards to force their way into the home team's 22, but the hard work South Africa put in under the watchful eye of defence consultant Jacques Nienaber paid off, as they managed to shut them out.

As if trailing by a big margin were not tough enough, Uganda second row Evenlyne Aweku received a yellow card for playing the ball from an offside position at a ruck, which piled even more pressure on her team.

Uganda supported their solid defence with a determined effort on attack to retain possession for long periods, and it allowed them to work their way into the South African 22. But with the South Africans denying them from getting a sniff of the tryline, Racheal Babirye opted to kick for posts after being awarded a penalty, which allowed the visitors to score their only points of the match.

The Springbok Women finished off the match on a high note with flanker Ngxatu running in the 11th and final try to secure her side's 60-point victory and their biggest winning margin in history.

Asia battle goes down to the wire

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan battled past Japan 25-23 in a close encounter under a blazing sun in Almaty on Saturday.

With so much at stake this was always going to be a tough battle in the hot conditions. Neither side could gain control in first 10 minutes but Japan exerted more effort and dominated territory, only errors prevented them from scoring.

The scoring opened after 15 minutes when Kazakhstan were deemed to be offside, allowing Japan to open the scoring with a penalty by Yui Higuchi.

Ten minutes later Japan increased their lead with the opening try of the game when Marie Yamaguchi - who had dotted down six tries in the semi-final win over Hong Kong earlier in the week - scored close to the posts after a quick tap penalty.

Japan went 15-3 up after a try by number 8 Mateitoga Bogidraumainadave which saw great inter play between the forwards, but this stung the home side into a response and they got their first try after strong running from outside centre Lyudmila Sherer saw her go over in the corner to leave it 15-10 at half time.

The Kazahks came out firing after the break and a period of sustained pressure saw Sherer run in again from 40 metres out, and this was followed by a try by captain Anna Yakovleva.

Higuchi and Aigerym Daurembayeva traded penalties before further Japanese pressure led to try-scorer Sherer being yellow carded for a second high tackle by her team in the same phase of play.

The Japanese did cross the try-line through prop Seina Saito late on but crucially missed the conversion that would have tied the scores at 25-25 and the home team managed to hang on for the narrow win.

The day's other match in the Asian qualifier saw Singapore beat Hong Kong 17-15 after scoring a try in the last minute to claim third place.