Springbok Women's coach Lawrence Sephaka believes his team can beat hosts France in their second World Cup clash on Tuesday.
South Africa lost 26-3 to Australia in their opening match of the tournament and were thrashed 46-8 by France in a warm-up game just a month ago, but Sephaka is adamant his charges have improved.
'Australia beat us 62-0 at the previous World Cup [in 2010], so we've reduced the deficit by more than 50%,' he told SARugbymag.co.za. 'This is an improving team, the statistics show it.
'Defensively we were nowhere in the first 20 minutes against Australia, but conceded just five points thereafter and ended strongly. We created so many opportunities, but mistakes at crucial times hampered our progress. We probably should have won.'
France were 26-0 victors in their opening match against Wales, but Sephaka says they are one-dimensional and can be beaten.
'They approached that game as they did our warm-up match. They have good runners, but rely too much on their forwards. If we can match them up front and play in the right areas, the sides will be levelled out.
'I put that warm-up result down to nervousness of playing a higher ranked and rated team. That first half was terrible for us, but on evidence of the second half and the growing confidence within the squad, I know we can beat France. We just have to tighten up in defence, improve our finishing and cut down the number of handling errors.'
By Mariette Adams
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images