That is the opinion of Springbok Women wing Ayanda Malinga, who scored two tries in quick succession in Kumagaya Stadium in the first half of the second test against Japan on Saturday – which laid the foundation for a 20-10 win.
Last weekend, Japan beat South Africa 15-6 in Kamaishi, but the convincing win in the second match ensured that honours were shared in the two-Test Japan Rugby Challenge Series.
“We certainly believed that the win was possible, especially as the team did not use the opportunities last weekend,” said Malinga, who did not play in Kamaishi.
“The team made good this time around and I am very happy to have contributed. When we received our jerseys on Friday, I pledged to the team that I will do what I did on the November tour – that was to score a try.
“Coach (Stanley Raubenheimer) gave me the chance and I was not going to let the opportunity go wasted,” added the University of Johannesburg graduate in Sports Management.
Raubenheimer hinted earlier in the week that they will be attacking in the wider channels as Japan were keen to box the Bok Women in and then use their superior numbers at the breakdown. The tweak worked wonders and where no tries were scored last week, Malinga’s brace and another from fellow wing Simamkele Namba paved the way to victory this time around.
Malinga, who last year scored a spectacular effort when the Springbok Women played the Barbarians at Twickenham, said her two five-pointers came down to a team effort.
“With that first try, I saw Libbie (Janse van Rensburg) break the line and saw the space and then she drew the defender,” said Malinga.
“I also saw that space created and the next moment I had the ball in my hands and I saw the line in front of me. I wanted that try and I wanted it for my team, so it was a very good feeling to score.”
Barely a minute later Malinga was at it again: “Lusanda Dumke got the ball from the kick-off and made sure she gained some ground for us and then gave the ball to Zintle Mpupha who made sure she was drawing people to her.
“What I did was to run hard between the two defenders that I had in front of me. I made sure I had the ball secured and used my other hand to get rid of the defender. Suddenly I was in space with the line waiting for me.”
“There were people chasing me, but I was not looking as I only had my eyes on that line. I wanted to get there to make sure we get another try. That was such a great feeling, but even better is the feeling of winning. It is just such a great feeling to win and to do it for our people back home and those players that are not here with us. It just meant so much to win this test. It really felt great.”
Malinga said her second try was the favourite as she had more to do herself: “I really worked with that one and had to crack on the pace. That one was even better for me than the first one.”
The speedster said the belief is there and that the win will help a lot for the team’s confidence in themselves.
“We are working hard to go to the World Cup and win matches there, so this win showed that we are doing some things right and that we are improving. We are looking forward to the next challenge now and want to keep improving.”
The next assignment for the squad will be a two-Test series against Spain, to be played at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on 13 August and at Fanie du Toit Stadium in Potchefstroom on 19 August.
The squad return from Japan on Monday and will assemble in Potchefstroom on Sunday, 7 August to prepare for the Women’s Winter Series against Spain.
Selected Japan Rugby Challenge Series stats:
Most tries: Ayanda Malinga (2)
Most points: Libbie Janse van Rensburg (11 – one conversion, three penalty goals)