South Africa showed their determination to secure a return to the Women's Rugby World Cup stage with an impressive display of attacking rugby that Uganda simply had no answer to in their Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2019 match at Bosman Stadium in Brakpan.
The hosts simply had too much pace, power and experience for Uganda, a side ranked 33 places below them in the World Rugby Women's Rankings, and 10 first-half tries set them on the road to an 89-5 victory in their opening match played on National Women's Day in South Africa.
Kenya were the other winners on day one of the first African women's 15s competition, although they had to battle much harder for their 35-5 victory over test debutants Madagascar in the opening match of a tournament that will determine the first regional qualifier for Women's Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand.
Defending champions New Zealand, England, France, USA, Canada, Australia and Wales have already confirmed their places with a top seven placing at WRWC 2017. The Rugby Africa Women's Cup 2019 winner will join them, with the runner-up to face the winner of the South American competition next year for a place in the global repechage.
The round-robin tournament continues on Tuesday when South Africa tackle Madagascar and Uganda and Kenya meet for the third time this year, the Lionesses having won both previous meetings in June and July to be crowned Elgon Cup champions again.
MADAGASCAR 5-35 KENYA
Two tries from Celestine Masinde helped Kenya make a winning start to the Rugby Africa Women's Cup against Madagascar.
Centre Patricia Ravololonirina had the honour of scoring Madagascar's first try in international rugby in the 18th minute, diving over as the test newcomers finally found a way over the try line after a period of prolonged pressure.
Their lead only lasted three minutes, though, as captain Philadelphia Olando's long pass created space for her fellow centre Masinde to run in at the corner.
Madagascar continued to hold their own against the Lionesses, repelling the faster Kenyans on many occasions before falling behind to tries late in the first half from sevens star Janet Okelo and Olando for a 17-5 advantage at the break.
Christobel Lindo looked set to increase that advantage only for a great try-saving tackle from the Madagascan wingers Claudia Rasoarimalala and Tiana Razanamahefa to force her into touch a metre out. It was only a temporary respite, though, as within a minute winger Diana Awino had scored on the other touchline.
Kenya lost scrum-half Irene Otieno to the sin-bin for foul play but it didn't disrupt their play, another miss-pass and quick hands resulting in a try for Lindo in the corner with 13 minutes to play.
There was still time for the Lionesses to add a penalty from Janet Owino and a second try for Masinde, who was the grateful recipient of a pass from Okelo after the full-back made the break and could have scored herself but selflessly passed to the centre to score nearer the posts.
SOUTH AFRICA 89-5 UGANDA
Rights Mkhari and Eloise Webb scored 3⃣ tries a piece in the Springbok Women's comprehensive victory against Uganda in Brakpan on Friday. Click here for the scorers and match report ⛓️https://t.co/tgfHDVh0r6 @Springboks @RugbyAfrique pic.twitter.com/f6NSkd6Mvh— Springbok Women (@WomenBoks) August 9, 2019
South Africa ended a run of four successive test defeats dating back to Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 with a dominant display of attacking rugby in which the forwards were just as dangerous as the backs.
The home crowd were given plenty to cheer about with rangy second-row Rights Mkhari running in two tries in the opening six minutes. Flanker Sinazo Mcatshulwa (main picture) stretched out for the third try and centre Zintle Mpupha burst a tackle for the fourth before Mkhari completed her hat-trick in the 20th minute with a 50-metre run-in.
The Springbok Women led 29-0 but they weren't about to take their foot off the pedal, an overthrown lineout by Uganda leading to the next try through prop Babalwa Latsha and by half-time she had been followed over the line by winger Ayanda Malinga, Mpupha, prop Yonela Ngxingolo and full-back Eloise Webb for a 62-0 advantage.
Uganda, to their credit, kept battling on but any mistake continued to be punished by South Africa with Webb, winger Snenhlanhla Shozi and Mcatshulwa keeping the scoreboard ticking over in the next quarter of the game.
Webb then became the second Springbok Women's player to score a hat-trick when she finished off an attack from distance, but Uganda then enjoyed a bit of time with the ball in hand and were rewarded when, having seen the ball stripped away on the goal-line and cleared to halfway, they regrouped and full-back Samiya Ajikoru dummied and raced in from 20 metres to score in the 70th minute.
There was still time for South Africa to have the final say with a second try for Shozi.
Photo credit: Gallo Images