Nairobi — The national women’s rugby team lost 48-0 to South Africa in the second match of their Rugby Africa Women’s Cup campaign in Antananarivo, Madagascar on Wednesday afternoon.
The Lionesses were all out at sea in the first half as the South Africans ran riot with six tries, courtesy of a Nomawethu Mabenge hattrick, a brace from Libbie Janse van Rensburg and one each from Zintle Mpupha, Sizophila Solontsi and Chumisa Qawe.
The Women Boks led 34-0 at halftime as their resolute defensive performance and their opponents’ ball handling errors seemed to play into their hands.
A yellow card to Grace Adhiambo did not also help the Lionesses’ cause as the Boks capitalised on the numerical advantage to camp in the Kenyans’ 22.
The second half began scrappily as both teams sought to settle into a rhythm with the Kenyans in particular struggling to get out of their defensive half.
Amidst the tug and push between the two sides, Mpupha completed her brace of the afternoon, eight minutes after the restart, benefitting from some good interchange of passes between the Boks’ backs and forwards to make it 41-0.
Not to be cowed into submission, the Lionesses, however, fought back bravely in a bid for a first try and had the South African backs on the wall for a majority of the second half.
The pressure on coach Louis Koen’s side told when three of their players – Lusanda Dumke, Unam Tose and Mabenge – were banished to the sin bin at different points of the game for ill-discipline.
However, for all their Amazonian strength, the Lionesses lacked the bite to penetrate the Boks’ defence and score a try.
With a minute to the end of the game, the wastefulness proved costly when Mabenge received the ball out-wide to dash and jump over the try line and with it, push in the final nail into the coffin.
Regardless of the result, captain Sheila Chajira was full of praise for her teammates, pointing out that they had fought gallantly from the first minute to the end.
“First of all, congratulations to South Africa. We put our bodies on the line…we gave our next game our very best because we want to be the best of the best. Our next game against Cameroon is a do-or-die and we will do all we can to win it,” she said.
Lionesses, who began their campaign with a 29-20 win over Madagascar on Saturday, next play the West Africans at the same venue.