SA Select Women’s captain Nolusindiso Booi looked forward to their two matches against the England Academy team next week with excitement after a hat-trick by winger Unathi Mali steered the side to a morale-boosting 27-5 victory against the British Army in a strong start to their England tour in Aldershot on Saturday.
“Our goal when we left South Africa was to win our first match to build momentum and confidence, and I am very proud that we managed to achieve that,” Booi said from London on Sunday. “We took positives and negatives from the match against the British Army, but the important thing is that we learned lessons during the game and we hope to carry that through into our next two matches.”
Booi said her charges would face the England Academy team on Wednesday with a better understanding of the demands of international rugby and the high standards expected after several players had their first taste of top-class rugby on Saturday.
“As a team we now have a good idea of what to expect going forward and also what we need to work on, so we will continue working hard at training in the next few days,” said Booi. “The win against the British Army was a good start to the tour, and it is up to us to build on that.”
Mali – a capped Springbok Women’s Sevens player – was in fine form against the British Army as she opened up the scoring in the fifth minute with a try and backed it up with another four minutes later.
Booi’s team was dealt a big blow early in the second quarter as Mali and centre Zinhle Ndawonde received yellow cards for a high tackle and a breakdown infringement respectively, and the opposition capitalised on this by scoring their first and only try to trail 10-5 at the break.
Booi’s charges built on their encouraging attacking display in the second half, and the rewards followed as 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup lock Celeste Adonis crossed the whitewash for their third try.
Mali earned her hat-trick late in the half, despite the team receiving their third yellow card minutes before, and they maintained their solid form until the final whistle which paved the way for replacement flanker Kamohele Makoele to score the team’s fifth try on the stroke of fulltime for the satisfying 27-5 victory.