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Baby steps for SA women

REACTION: The improvement shown by the South African women’s Sevens team in Perth will give the coaching staff and players a confidence boost for the next two HSBC SVNS tournaments – in Vancouver (February 23 to 25) and Los Angeles (March 1 to 3).

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That is the view of SA women’s Sevens head coach Renfred Dazel, who feels the short turnaround for the team will be made easier by the fact that they return to South Africa on Monday knowing that they can compete at the highest level, and that the next challenge will be to do so consistently.

South Africa recorded a first pool win on Saturday when they beat Great Britain 14-12, before a 12-5 victory over Spain set up a ninth-place play-off match against Brazil earlier on Sunday.

The South Americans won this game 7-0, after scoring the only try of the match late in the second half in a very tight encounter.

“The result against Brazil was not quite what we wanted as we dropped our standards from yesterday [Saturday] a bit,” Dazel said after their final match in Perth.

“However, looking back at the three days as a whole, we have certainly improved in many areas.

“I was not happy with the performance on day three.

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“We need to adapt to the three-day schedule as the next two stops will both be played over three days.

“We will have a look at tweaking our programme to make sure we still get the best out of every player on each day.”

* To read all about the weekend’s drama in Perth, CLICK HERE!

Baby steps for SA women

Dazel pointed to other factors that will come into play in Vancouver: “There will be low temperatures and the fact that the tournament is played in an indoor stadium with an artificial pitch will also be a first for most of our players, so we will adapt their training programme accordingly.”

The SA women’s Sevens coach was pleased with the performance of Shona-Leah Weston, who last played in the series a decade ago and worked her way back into the squad after coming out of retirement.

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“Yes, she grabbed her opportunity when she played against Canada and started all the matches after that,” he said.

“Her maturity helped a lot as well as generally, we lack experience in our squad.”

Co-captain Zintle Mpupha said the squad’s performances gave them a physical and mental boost.

“We showed that we deserve to be here as a core team in HSBC SVNS and that we can compete.

“Yes, we are not yet where we want to be, but to see the hard work being rewarded with those back-to-back wins did wonders for us.”

Mpupha praised her team for their efforts over the three days of competition.

“We bonded nicely as a group and played for each other out there.

“That was great to experience and something that will help us achieving our goals as a team,” Mpupha said.

* South Africa (with seventh points) is still in 11th place on the overall standings, but gained a point on Japan (nine) in 10th place.

* Nadine Roos (13 points) scored the most points for South Africa at the tournament.

* Mathrin Simmers extended her career record as the most capped Springbok Women’s Sevens player in HSBC SVNS to 16 tournaments.

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