Gutsy Border lose provincial final

Western Province deservedly defend title

Border’s Snenhlanhla Shozi is tackled by a Western Province player during the SA women’s interprovincial tournament final at Buffalo City Stadium on Saturday. WP defended their title in a tough game.
Border’s Snenhlanhla Shozi is tackled by a Western Province player during the SA women’s interprovincial tournament final at Buffalo City Stadium on Saturday. WP defended their title in a tough game.
Image: Alan Eason

It was a disappointing end to the season for the Border women's rugby team as they fell to an 18-12 defeat against a deserving Western Province team in the final of the South African women's Interprovincial competition at the BCM Stadium, East London on Saturday.

It meant that Western Province defended the title they picked up last year after Border had previously held it for four consecutive years.

Having gone through the pool stage unbeaten, including beating Western Province 19-10 in round three, Border will have been confident of reclaiming the title going into the final, but it was not to be in the end.

“We had a long talk after game, the girls were a bit angry and disappointed at many things. They wanted to get the win, they didn't reach the fitness they wanted, and they were just unhappy at not claiming the title again,” said Border women's head Mandisa Williams.

“But I told them it was game of rugby. It happens.”

The team was also disrupted by two late withdrawals from star players Eloise Webb and Nosiphiwo Goda before the match, which will also have played a part in their performance.

“They are very important senior players who would have made the difference, but instead we had a lot of youngsters playing and they found it tough,” admitted Williams.

The first half was even, with Province leading 13-12. The visitors had started the match stronger, but once Border settled down they showed the danger of their senior players.

Captain Zintle Mpupha particularly had a cracking game and it was her impressive work that saw Border open the scoring in the 14th minute. She made two breaks, the first into the Province half and then another into their 22m, before she was on hand a few phases later to make the final pass to inside centre Aphiwe Ngwevu to dive over next to the uprights.

Mpupha converted to give Border 7-0 lead which they held until the 28th minute. Then Province got on the board with a penalty to flyhalf Kirsten Conrad and the visitors then scored their first try through inside centre Selladean Pieterse in the 32nd minute to take the lead at 8-7.

Border then retook the lead through a Thuliswa Capa try only for Province to score after the half-time hooter through fullback Vuyolwethu Maqholo.

The second half then belonged completely to Province who had outside centre Veroeshka Grain dotting down in the first minute of the half before they spent most of the half camped in Border’s half, with the hosts defending heroically to stay in the match until the very end.

Province coach Jongi Nokwe said: “They [players] did what we asked of them and it was our goal to retain the title and we did that.”

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