Beaten finalists in 2021, DHL Western Province managed a 20-5 win over the Cell C Sharks Women in Durban, while the EP Queens handed newcomers to the Premier Division, the Mastercard Golden Lions Women, a first defeat in Nelson Mandela Bay, winning 18-10. Boland Dames had a bye on the weekend.
At Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the home side combined determined defence – especially in the first half of their clash against the visitors from the Eastern Cape – and clinical finishing to make a huge statement at the start of the 2022 season.
The hosts scored a try in each half, both by wing Lynn Subke, and kept out the Border side with some solid defending. Subke's first try was converted by Springbok Women’s flyhalf Libbie Janse van Rensburg to give the home side a 7-0 lead.
Subke’s second half effort was another fine piece of finishing and that proved decisive. Having had a sustained time on attack, the home side finally moved the ball to the wing, who managed to break through a number of despairing cover defenders to score in the corner.
Border will lament some handling errors while on attack and their inability to break down the Blue Bulls’ defence by varying their play will also need to be fixed if they hope to be successful. They also suffered some injuries, which did not help their momentum at all.
In Nelson Mandela Bay’s Wolfson Stadium, the EP Queens started strong against the newly-promoted Gauteng side, but credit to the Mastercard Golden Lions Women as they managed to stay in the fight for large portions of the first half.
Byrhandre Dolf kicked an early penalty goal, but also missed two in the opening quarter as EP dominated, but the visitors took an unexpected lead halfway through the half as left-wing Maria Tshiremba set off on a blistering run to score under the poles.
Springbok prop Sanelisiwe Charlie soon restored the lead for the Queens when she crashed over from short distance to edge her side ahead 8-5.
The home side started strong in the second half two and wing Onesimo Mlamla was worked over following sustained pressure by the EP pack. A number of pick and drives committed the Golden Lions defence and Mlamla found some space to work with and score for a 13-5 lead.
The visitors came back strongly and enjoyed their best spell of the match and after being held up over the line, Tshiremba again raced from out wide to score in the corner (13-10). Fullback Raylene Noubos then eased the nerves with a try in the corner after a couple of lineout mauls had the Joburg side in trouble.
A well-drilled DHL Western Province side started strongly in Durban, and it was no surprise to see flyhalf Kirsten Conrad slotting the first penalty goal in the opening minutes. The Cape side enjoyed massive territorial advantage and when the women from KwaZulu-Natal were penalised for a ruck offense, the flyhalf took a quick tap to score for an 8-0 lead.
That seemed to shock the Cell C Sharks Women into action, and they managed good field position and after a number of good set phases, left wing Bongekile Langazane was worked over the left-hand corner.
The Cape side started the second half with only a three-point advantage, but continue to build on that lead as the match progressed. Springbok Women’s prop Babalwa Latsha was rewarded with two tries in a storming game. Latsha scored soon after the home side’s centre Zinhle Ndawonde was given a yellow card and the Capetonian pack drove strongly for a 13-5 lead.
DHL WP centre Chumisa Quma was red carded soon after for a high tackle, but that did not break the Capetonians’ momentum, and Latsha scored a converted try for WP to ease them into the win.
Blue Bulls Women 12 (7), Border Ladies 0 (0)
Blue Bulls – Tries: Lynn Subke (2). Conversion: Libbie Janse van Rensburg.
EP Queens 18 (8), Mastercard Golden Lions Women 10 (5)
EP Queens – Tries: Sanelisiwe Charlie, Onesimo Mlamla, Raylene Noubos. Penalty goal: Byrhandre Dolf.
Mastercard Golden Lions Women – Tries: Maria Tshiremba (2).
Cell C Sharks Women 5 (5), DHL Western Province 20 (8)
Cell C Sharks Women – Try: Bongekile Langazane.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Kirsten Conrad, Babalwa Latsha (2). Conversion: Conrad. Penalty goal: Conrad.