Thirteenth-ranked South Africa conceded five tries in each half against the fourth-ranked Canadians and Koen said if it was not for the desperate and courageous defence by his squad at times, the scoreline could have looked much worse than the 66-7 win.
“We were up against it from the start with the loss of Catha (Jacobs) to a red card and then 15 minutes later, the injury to Danelle Lochner,” said Koen.
“They were our lineout callers and we had to adapt against a very capable Canadian pack. They were also game wise and moved the ball side to side to use their numerical advantage and that worked for them.
“We did defend with real honour for long spells in the match – I can recall at least five times where we kept them away from our line with a very resilient defence and a refusal to lie down and give them the points. I am really proud of that.”
For the coach, the early red card and subsequent injuries to Lochner and firecracker No 8 Aseza Hele compounded the realities of four players who made their Test debuts in the match, but he accepted the defeat and made no excuses.
“Our players were made to realise what the intensity, pace and intent is from the top sides in the world,” he added.
“We took our first step towards that standard today. We also saw their conditioning and skills set and our players now has a better picture of what is needed if you want to be in the top tier.”
Koen is adamant that progress will be measured week after week: “We can get there. Our scrums for example were dominant, we even gained scrum penalties against them while scrumming with seven forwards and as mentioned, our lineouts had to adapt dramatically.
“The defence was stretched, as we had to scramble and some of the debutants found the going difficult because of that. But we stayed in the fight and finished strong and that was great to see as a coach.”
The Springbok Women will now face Spain on 1 April before returning home from their short tour.