South Africa and Kenya both took a step towards WXV qualification as they recorded victories on the opening day of the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup Division 1 2023 in Antananarivo.
In front of a large crowd at Stade Makis, South Africa got match-day one underway with an 87-0 defeat of Cameroon.
Kenya then held off a spirited fight back from hosts Madagascar to record a 29-20 win that sets up Wednesday’s match against the Springbok Women perfectly.
The winners of the Division 1 2023 title will confirm their place in WXV 2, which is schedule to take place in Cape Town in October, while the runners-up will compete in WXV 3.
Springbok Women too good for Cameroon
South Africa are favourites to top the standings and qualify for the second level of WXV on home soil, and they showed why with a dominant display against Cameroon on Saturday.
Asiphe Mayaba made a dream test debut, scoring four of her side’s 15 tries in Antananarivo. Rights Mkhari, meanwhile, finished the match with a hat-trick.
Cameroon struggled to cope with the physicality of the Springbok Women forwards in the first half and conceded three maul tries, as well as a penalty try from an illegally sacked drive, before half-time.
South Africa flanker Nompumelelo Mathe was sent to the sin-bin midway through the first half but it had little impact on the flow of the match, and Mayaba scored her first test try while they were down to 14 players.
Mathe redeemed herself before half-time, scoring a brilliant try to help make the score 41-0 to South Africa at the break.
Mayaba completed her hat-trick with two scores early in the second half and the Springbok Women refused to take their foot off the gas.
In total South Africa crossed the whitewash eight times after the break, as Mkhari touched down three times and Mayaba helped herself to a fourth try two minutes from the end.
Kenya hold off Madagascar comeback
Madagascar took an early 3-0 lead in their match against Kenya, to give the home crowd in Antananarivo something to cheer.
However, the rest of the first half belonged to Kenya and two unconverted tries from Grace Adhiambo gave the Lionesses a 10-3 lead.
That advantage was extended by a further seven points by half-time after Kenya were awarded a penalty try.
Madagascar scored a converted try to narrow their deficit to seven once again early in the second half, but Judith Auma crossed for Kenya soon after to make the score 22-10.
The hosts again hit back, this time with an unconverted try, before Auma crossed the whitewash for the second time in the match after good work from Natasha Emali.
That gave Kenya a 29-15 lead and meant that a late third try for Madagascar was nothing more than consolation.