The EP Queens scored eight tries – five of them by Springbok Women’s wing Nomawethu Mabenge – in a 48-10 romp over the Mastercard Golden Lions Women in Johannesburg, while the Bulls Daisies also won away from home, beating defending champions, Border Ladies, 31-0 in East London.
DHL Western Province started their campaign at home and outscored the Cell C Sharks Women by five tries to one, with wing Asipe Mayaba getting a hat-trick in their 31-14 win.
Bulls Daisies 31 (14), Border Ladies 0
The visiting Bulls Daisies battled to overcome a tenacious Border Ladies side, but in the end won on a canter, despite not being at their best, which should be a real concern to their forthcoming opponents this year.
It was a tactical battle from the start. The Daisies rocked the home side at Police Park early when fullback Zintle Nonkasana waltzed through in the opening minutes, but with both sides guilty of handling errors, the game showed little fluency.
Border made them work hard for their next score though, which only came 26 minutes in. The visiting pack forwards rumbled it up towards the Border goal line and inside centre Shiniqwa Lamprecht ran a good line to crash over.
At this stage, Border managed to keep the Pretoria pack in check, while trying their best to strike from turn-over play, a ploy they are well-known for. Neither side could establish dominance though, although the Daisies had most of the possession and the 14-0 lead seemed justified at the break.
The visiting team seemed to need more time to gel as a unit and made several handling errors, most of time due to poor communication.
Their first try of the second half came from a lovely counterattack after Border missed their lineout target. The ball was moved swiftly down the backline and outside centre Unathi Mali ran all of 40 meters to score against her old province for a 19-0 lead.
Left wing Jakkie Cilliers converted and then kicked a penalty goal to extend the lead before Lamprecht dotted down following a flowing attack by the visitors, finally showing some fluency with ball in hand, earning the Daisies a well-deserved bonus point.
Bulls Daisies – Tries: Zintle Nonkasana, Shiniqwa Lamprecht (2), Unathi Mali. Conversions: Byrhandrѐ Dolf (2), Jakkie Cilliers (2). Penalty goal: Cilliers.
Border Ladies 0
Mastercard Golden Lions Women 10 (5), EP Queens 48 (17)
The EP Queens showed good early form in the tournament, outplaying the Mastercard Golden Lions Women at UJ Stadium in Johannesburg and scoring several delightful tries in the process.
Five of those came from Springbok Women wing Nomawethu Mabenge and for Border coach Lex de Vos and his new backline coach, Zenay Jordaan, that must have been a real delight. De Vos indicated a greater use of his backline and they responded very well, often allowing Mabenge the space to show her pace and power.
In all, seven of the eight tries were scored by the backs and that was a clear indication of the style of play one can expect from the Queens in this campaign. The foundation was laid up front though, with the EP forwards dominating the lineouts and a dominating defensive display kept the home side on the back foot though-out the game.
Springbok Women prop Sanelisiwe Charlie will also point to her five pointer as proof that the pack had their mauling game intact.
Mastercard Golden Lions Women – Tries: Evidence Tinoota, Akhona Nkosi.
EP Queens – Tries: Nomawethu Mabenge (5), Shaunique Alexander, Rivonia Leslie, Sanelisiwe Charlie. Conversions: Raylene Noubos, Zaza Nojoko (3).
DHL Western Province 29 (10), Cell C Sharks Women 14 (11)
DHL Western Province started their campaign in perfect fashion by outplaying their very capable opponents at Hamilton’s by five tries to one. The visitors were rocked by two early tries in the opening six minutes but crawled their way back to a 11-10 lead at the break.
The KwaZulu-Natalians extended that to 14-10 early in the second half, but then fell away in the last 30 minutes of the match, allowing the home side to score 19 unanswered points.
Right wing Asipe Mayaba was on the scoreboard in the opening stanza when deft footwork put her clear of the two defenders after good lead-up play by her inside backs.
Two minutes later, it was the turn of left wing Alichia Arries to dot down in her return to provincial rugby. The Sharks could not gather a kick ahead by flyhalf Elme Kruger, the ball was worked to the left and good hands by Kruger and fullback Chuma Qawe gave Arries a run-in from 30 meters out.
The visitors got onto the board thanks to a good probing kick by flyhalf Mary Zulu being carried over by the home team. From the resulting five-meter scrum, they attacked with a crash ball and right wing Megan Comley scored after a quick recycle and change of direction down the blind side.
Zulu then kicked a penalty goal after a good spell on attack forced WP to play the ball on the ground and she edged her team ahead five minutes later as the KZN team started to win the battle up front.
Zulu extended the lead early in the second half with a third penalty goal and a 14-10 lead, but that was the last time they would taste any reward for their efforts.
A flowing attack by DHL WP resulted in a try by Chumisa Qawe, with the midfielder rounding off some good work by her teammates with a strong burst to the line. Kruger converted and suddenly WP looked in command and chasing a bonus point.
A poor clearance kick by the Sharks, who saw Nompumelelo Mathe yellow carded just before that, resulted in the fourth try for the home side as Mayaba raced past two defenders to score. Kruger converted and WP jumped into a 10-point lead with 18 minutes left.
With the bonus point secured, the home side entertained the crowd with a final flurry, handing the Junior Springbok Women’s player a third try on the day.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Asiphe Mayaba (3), Alichia Arries, Chumisa Qawe. Conversions: Elme Kruger (3).
Cell C Sharks Women – Try: Megan Comley. Penalty goals: Mary Zulu (3).