The Springbok women came away from their debut as a core member of the HSBC SVNS Series with few complaints and more than enough positive outcomes from their opening display at the Emirates Dubai Sevens.
Springbok Women's Sevens head coach, Renfred Dazel, said he was more than happy with the showing of his squad, especially as he was expecting the team to struggle on Day Two.
"I knew the second day would be tough for us, as the bodies were sore and we have one or two injuries after yesterday and we then had to do it all over again,” he said. “We did that, so I am very proud. Finishing tenth when we were ranked 12th is a huge positive for me. "
Dazel said the team had a baseline from which they could measure the desired level of consistency.
"We know we will be competitive in the series; we saw that in Dubai,” he said. “The next step is to back that up in the next tournament, which comes quickly with the Cape Town Sevens. If we can be consistent in our performances, we will achieve our goal, which is to have a top eight finish in this year's series."
The South Africans scored a first tournament win in the series on Sunday when they beat Spain and then were edged in the ninth-placed final by Japan.
Co-captain, Mathrin Simmers, said they took huge strides in the tournament. "We are a happy group with regards to that,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we do well, as that would give us some confidence and comfort that we indeed belong in this elite competition. We now feel much better about that and are looking towards the future with confidence."
She said good lessons were learned. "Our game management is not what it can be, we lacked a bit there, but that will grow with experience. We can have a look back at the positives and where we came up short and how to rectify that. Overall, it was a good tournament for us, I feel."
For forward Rights Mkhari, the performances in Dubai highlighted the growth of the squad in recent months.
"We came here to set a standard for ourselves, to see where we are in comparison to the other teams. We now know more than three days ago and now have a base to work from.
"As a team, we did well, we really fought for each other and left nothing out on the field, we also came so close in a couple of games. We wanted to beat Japan in the last game in order to take that into next week in Cape Town, but we just came up short."
The Cape Town tournament will be a huge boost for the team, she said.
"I am very positive about the performances; I think we will have good support in Cape Town next weekend to do ourselves and our country proud."
Japan outplayed South Africa by two tries to one in their ninth-placed final, with both tries conceded in the first half. South Africa were hampered by an unfortunate injury to Zintle Mpupha early in the first half and that impacted their defensive effort. Japan also scored a try from a turn-over near the SA line, another area where they had dominance in the first half, forcing three turnovers.
The SA women were on the back foot in the first half and only managed seven carries and 10 passes in the opening half.
Things were much better in the second half, although they also lost Simamkele Namba with injury. Nadine Roos managed to send Rights Mkhari away for a try, but sadly they could not cross the Japanese line again to square matters and the 12-5 scoreline was the final one.
Earlier the Springbok Women's Sevens outplayed Spain 17-0.
The SA women, without the services of flyhalf Libbie Janse van Rensburg, could point to determined defence and some sublime skills from playmakers Simmers and Roos as reasons for the win, but no one will argue that it was indeed a team effort that got them past the 10th ranked team on the HSBC SVNS series.
Simmers was instrumental in the opening score, when she started a move on her own try-line and when she offloaded to Roos 40 metres later, the speedster was able to run in to score in the corner.
Some good rush defence kept Spain under pressure, with the consequence that they started to force passes. From one such a pass, the ball was worked out to Mkhari, who scored in the same corner as Roos. That pushed the lead out to 10-0 at the break.
The second half was more of the same, but with more possession, the South Africans had more attacking opportunities. From one such, Roos kicked ahead and gathered the ball herself for a second try, which she also converted for a 17-0 lead, and it remained that way till the final whistle.
In the end, it was a rewarding outing, with the team showing they can play against the best. They conceded 69 points and scored 58, while as the 12th ranked team going into the completion, managed a 10th place finish.