Victorious Springbok Women were more battle-hardened than Spain, says Koen

Wing Jakkie Cilliers slotted a late penalty to clinch victory for the Springbok Women against Spain on Saturday. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO Independent Newspapers

Wing Jakkie Cilliers slotted a late penalty to clinch victory for the Springbok Women against Spain on Saturday. Photo: PHANDO JIKELO Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 25, 2024


While the Springbok Women “seemed rusty at times”, coach Louis Koen lauded his team for their fighting spirit in a second-half comeback to beat Spain 15-13 in Valladolid on Saturday.

The Women Boks were 13-5 down at one stage, but kept their hopes of a win alive with a penalty try with 10 minutes left to make it 13-12, and then left wing Jakkie Cilliers slotted a penalty with three minutes to go, for a 15-13 lead.

The Spaniards had a last-gasp chance to snatch victory, but missed a penalty.

The forwards dominated the physical exchanges, with the likes of No 5 lock Vainah Ubisi and blindside flank Sinazo Mcatshulwa charging forward with ball in hand, while the back three of Cilliers, fullback Chuma Qawe and right wing Macaela Samboya were all lively and made inroads into the Spanish defence.

But the South Africans often conceded a breakdown penalty or knocked the ball on in contact, a problem they will have to correct ahead of this Saturday’s Test against the US in Ealing, London.

After a three-pointer from Spain in the 28th minute, the Women Boks took the lead with a well-taken try by hooker Lindelwa Gwala, but the hosts dotted down twice to be 13-5 ahead in the 64th minute – before the thrilling finale by the visitors to extend their unbeaten run against the Spanish to four matches.

“We won because of our forwards and the way they performed in the scrums and line-outs – and for that, (forwards coaches) Franzel (September) and Laurian (Johannes-Haupt) must be applauded,” Koen said.

“We saw how many injuries Spain picked up in this game, and our conditioning was much better, which can be attributed to those camps we had. We were more battle-hardened than them.

“When you grind out a win like this and it was not your best performance, you have to take it. We were not great at times, but we will take the win.”

The big goal for the Springbok Women this year is to qualify for the first-tier WXV 1 tournament in Canada in September and October, after they competed in the WXV 2 and finished third on home soil in Stellenbosch and Athlone last year.

SA Rugby announced earlier this year that the Boks will get their shot at qualification for WXV 1 at the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup in Madagascar in May.

So, the current two-match tour of Europe is vital in preparing for that event, and Koen hopes to see further growth in their game against the US on Saturday (3pm kick-off, SA time).

“The conditioning of the squad is significantly better than the same time last year, and our alignment camps prepared us well to play until the final whistle today,” Koen said.

“We also blooded four new caps, so in that regard, we are ticking the boxes we wanted.

“We will have to bank on them in the Africa Cup when our UK-based players will not be available, so they picked up good experience on what Test rugby is all about, something we are going to need in Madagascar.”

Points scorers

Springbok Women 15 – Tries: Lindelwa Gwala, penalty try. Penalty: Jakkie Cilliers (1).

Spain Women 13 – Tries: Claudia Cano, Claudia Pena. Penalty: Amalia Argudo (1).

Related Topics: