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Springbok Women’s Sevens finish on a high in Singapore

NEWS: One try was enough for the Springbok Women’s Sevens team as they finished the HSBC SVNS Singapore on a winning note and secured ninth position with their second victory of the weekend over the USA.

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The 5-0 victory over the USA early on Sunday morning meant that South Africa finished the tournament at the National Stadium with three wins and two defeats from their five games, their second-best performance of the season.

Maria Tshiremba scored what turned out to be the match-winner just before the break against the USA, and the Bok Women then threw everything they had into the last seven minutes to remain ahead on the scoreboard.

Renfred Dazel (head coach) was very happy with his team’s overall performance on the weekend.

“This was the first time we’ve had three wins in a tournament, and it was good for the girls to build momentum (for the rest of the season),” said Dazel.

“Although there were some tired and sore bodies out there today, the girls pulled through.

“I’m really stoked with their performance, especially with the way in which they stood up for this team and for our system – some of them even playing out of position, like Ayanda Malinga playing at prop for the first time.”

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The Bok Women were close to reaching the quarterfinals in Singapore, but heavy defeats in their final two pool games, against France and Japan, scuppered their chances of reaching the top eight for a second time this season.

“Playing against France and Japan, it felt like it was a mental thing for the players, and we need to overcome that because if we had lost with a bonus point against Japan, we could have made the quarter-finals,” he said.

On the first day of the tournament, the South Africans beat the USA, 14-12 – who had come into the tournament in fourth spot on the standings and on the back of a silver medal in Hong Kong a month ago. But that high was followed by disappointing defeats in their next two pool games at the hands of France and Japan.

The second day ended on a high though, with a 26-14 victory over Spain to book the rematch against the USA.

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Tshiremba scored a brace of tries against the Spanish, but her five-pointer against America was probably the most important of her fledgling sevens career.

Eloise Webb, one of the senior players in the squad, shared Dazel’s sentiments: “There is a lot to work on, but there is also a lot of positives we can take out of this weekend and we’re really proud of the fight we showed in that last game.

“We need to react a bit quicker in all our games, but we’re happy with how the weekend ended. Not so much on how things went in the second and third games, but I think we showed a lot of courage to come back from that to win our last two games.

“We bought into what we wanted to achieve and really showed some fight for one another,” added Webb.

On the injury front, Dazel said they will assess a few players when they are back in South Africa. Simamkele Namba injured a knee, Zintle Mpupha suffered a concussion and Shona-Leah Weston strained her hamstring.

Dazel’s team will travel to Spain later this month where they will play in the new promotion and relegation play-off competition at the HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid, with the four bottom-placed teams in the current standings taking on China, Argentina, Belgium, and Uganda for core status next season.

Their final assignment of the season will be in Paris in July when they play in the Olympic Games for the first time.

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