The RLC provided the band for the evening.
Money was being raised for the Royal British Legion with this year’s message being Thank You 100; commemorating the contribution of the World War I generation.
Army Nurse, Nikki O’Donnel, led the team of match officals. It was her second time in the middle for a CS/UKAF match and she was also celebrating her first World Rugby International appointment which also involved South Africa with their international against Wales on 10 Nov 2018.
Having enjoyed the upper hand in the opening fifteen minutes UKAF held a deserved 7-0 lead on the score board. However South Africa began to show their international class and exerting pressure on the UKAF defence with some strong running around the edge of the ruck and when the defence was under pressure a preparedness to throw the ball wide. With their backrow of Lusnda Dumke, Sinazo Mcatshulwa and Aseza Hele beginning to boss the breakdown it was no suprise when they opened their account with a try in the left corner through Alana-Lee Horne.
They scored two more quick tries through Hele and Aphiwe Ngwevu to lead 17-7 at half time.
Immediately after the break South Africa were back on the attack with wave after wave of strong runners looking to break the home team resistance. The UKAF defence was resilient and met the onslaught with a ferocity of tackling not seen from the team before. Their commitment to defence drew the sting from the South Africa attack and allowed UKAF to regain a foot hold in the match with some much needed possession. Gradually the tide turned and UKAF worked their way up the pitch until they were the ones looking to score the next points.
With their confidence visibily rising it was indeed UKAF who scored next as Sarah Batley went over for the try which brought UKAF back to within one score, even though Dodd was wide with the conversion.
Sean WIlliams now needed calm heads from her team as they sought the winning score. However it was not to be and as they looked to turn defence in to attack once more, South Africa were able to poach an interception try to effectively seal the match with Ngwevu scoring her second try. A further try to finish the game but a gloss on the score board but South Africa knew that they had been taken to the edge by a determined UKAF side who more had raised their game to match the physicality of their international opponents.
Final Score: UKAF 12 – South Africa 31
Sinazo McAtshulwa was awarded the Player of the Match bottle of champagne and as the South Africa players entertained the crowd through song, their captain, Nolusindisco Booi, received the winners trophy. UKAF Coach, John Wilding, thanked his players and said how impressed he was with their performance whilst for the South Africa Women their congratulations were delivered by Springbok coach, Rassie Eramus.
Both teams contributed to an excellent and hard fought match with South Africa deserved winners. But for the UKAF team, they can hold their heads up high, especially their seven new caps: Ruth Harper, Rhiannon Walton, Olivia Critchley, Elise Fletcher, Emilie White, Beck WIlson and Roz Mills
Images by Alligin Photography (Geraint Ashton Jones and Neil Kennedy)
Words by Geraint Ashton Jones