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WXV2 – South Africa v Scotland preview

Lisa Thomson - pic © Peter Watt/N50 Images
Lisa Thomson - pic © Peter Watt/N50 Sports

Scotland

2023 WXV2Fri 13th Oct 2023Danie Craven Stadium, BurgersdorpKick-off: 4:30 pm (UK)31-17
Springboks

South Africa

Referee: Natarsha Ganley (NZR)| TV: RugbyPass.tv

WXV is set up to bring us more international women’s matches between teams who rarely play each other outside the World Cup, but it does mean that going into the tournament, it is hard to say exactly where teams are in relation to each other.

Hosts South Africa are Scotland’s first opponents in the first WXV2 tournament which will also see them play Japan and the USA.

The most recent matches between Scotland and the Women Boks, in a 2019 summer tour, were won fairly convincingly by Scotland, but South Africa have invested in and professionalised their women’s set-up since then, and the match should be a lot closer.

Although like Scotland, South Africa didn’t manage a victory at last year’s World Cup, their barnstorming epic with Fiji was one of the games of the tournament and showed how they can mix pace and power and play some exciting rugby.

Their form coming into the tournament doesn’t provide strong clues as to their exact current level, although they will have welcomed the game time and match opportunities. Their first tranche of warm-up matches were against teams that are probably a level below that of the teams in WXV2.

Their final match was a draw with Samoa (who they will also play in WXV2); the lowest-ranked team in the division and perhaps the surprise qualifiers ahead of Fiji.

For their game against Scotland, they have several highly experienced players returning who missed the Samoa game, with the most notable being the brilliant Aseza Hele. Hele was one of the biggest stars of the pool stages of the World Cup, her all round game is excellent but her ball carrying and tackle breaking is truly exceptional.

Her battle with Scotland’s back row should be one the main features of the match – and luckily for Scotland in the likes of Evie Gallagher and Rachel Malcolm, Scotland have some of the best and most prolific tacklers in the northern hemisphere.

South Africa are a team who are extremely physical. They have had a lot of games in the lead up to this so I think what’s important for us is to make sure that we’re game ready and switched on from the first minute, because we know that they are going to bring a lot of heat straight off bat. They are really an incredible team and it’s an honour to get to play them in their home country as well so it will be a very exciting match.

Rachel Malcolm, Scotland Captain

Hele recently signed for Harlequins, which led to a highly memorable tweet from Squidge Rugby proclaiming “Konkel and Hele in the same back row should qualify as nuclear weaponry. If Quins never include them in the same team next season it’s probably because the UN intervened.” Jade Konkel-Roberts herself returns from a long injury layoff to the Scotland bench, and I can’t wait to see her go up against her new clubmate when she gets on the park.

For Scotland, Lisa Thomson and Emma Wassell return to the starting lineup, bringing their experience, nous and physical prowess to what will likely be a tough and aggressive match, in the best sense of the words.

Wassell’s line out brilliance can help Scotland thrive at that set piece, and Thomson’s powerful boot and direct running in midfield should help Scotland both gain territory and momentum.

Having both Konkel-Roberts and Louise McMillan available off the bench means Scotland’s physical intensity is unlikely to let up at any point in the game. Scotland will be looking to at least match South Africa in the forwards and then release the pacy back three retained from the victory against Spain – Rhona Lloyd, Fran McGhie and Chloe Rollie, who all looked in good form in the last match.

Based on world rankings, Scotland are favourites for the match, but they know they will have to play their best rugby to have a good chance to win.

Both teams are continually improving and will be wanting to get their WXV2 campaign off to a flyer. South Africa will have passionate home support, but hopefully for us, Scotland’s greater experience against top-level teams will help them through to the win.

South Africa: Chuma Qawe, Maceala Samboya, Veroeshka Grain, Piwokuhle Nyanda, Shaunique Hess, Libbie Janse van Rensburg, Tayla Kinsey; Sanelisiwe Charlie, Lindelwa Gwala, Babalwa Latsha (captain), Vainah Ubisi, Danelle Lochner, Lusanda Dumke, Sinazo Mcatshulwa, Aseza Hele.
Replacements: Roseline Botes, Yonela Ngxingolo, Amber Schonert, Nolusindiso Booi, Catha Jacobs, Micke Gunter, Rumandi Pogieter, Mary Zulu.

Scotland: Chloe Rollie, Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Francesca McGhie, Helen Nelson, Mairi McDonald; Leah Bartlett, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm (capt), Rachel McLachlan, Evie Gallagher.
Replacements: Elis Martin, Anne Young, Lisa Cockburn, Louise McMillan, Jade Konkel, Caity Mattinson, Meryl Smith, Liz Musgrove.

1 Response

  1. Great start to the tournament. Really physical game but good to see Scotland weather the storm and put some nice tries together, not just from the maul!

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