Spain have more than halved the deficit to Wales above them in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings after a 29-12 defeat of South Africa in Despatch on Saturday.
Las Leonas will sit just under a rating point behind Wales in ninth place when the rankings update on Monday at 12:00 UK time, a side they will face in Madrid on 3 November.
Flanker Paula Medin opened the scoring for Spain in the eighth minute and that lead was extended to 8-0 after when Patricia Garcia kicked a penalty after 25 minutes.
South Africa managed to keep the score that way until six minutes from half-time when Spain’s relentless pressure finally told, Maria Calvo dotting down with Garcia adding the conversion this time.
Full-back Vuyolwethu Maqholo got the home side back into the game on the stroke of half-time at WJ de Wet Stadium when she gathered a smart chip kick to cut the deficit to 15-5.
A charging run took Calvo over for her second try early in the second half, although once again South Africa responded with a try by captain Babalwa Latsha.
However, Las Leonas’ full-back Iera Echebarria had the pace to go over in the 64th minute and with neither side able to find another score, it was the visitors that ran out winners.
“It was a tough one,” said South Africa coach Stanley Raubenheimer of his side’s first match since qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand.
“Spain showed again why they are ranked in the top 10 sides in the world.
“We created three very good opportunities to score which we couldn’t convert into points, and apart from that there were other things we could do better, which we need to work on.
“That said our scrummaging and lineouts were a little better than the last time we faced Spain, and we put a few good phases together. So while I am disappointed with the defeat there are positives we can take from the match.”
South Africa now look forward to two tests on home soil with Scotland, the side directly below them in the rankings in 12th, on 30 September and 5 October.
Photo: SA Rugby