Kazakhstan ensured they ended Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 on a high by recording their first win of the tournament with a 12-8 victory over Sweden at Surrey Sports Park on Sunday.
The victory means that the Asian champions match their 11th
place finish of four years ago in Canada, leaving Sweden without a
win and propping up the standards on their return to the World Cup
stage after a 12-year absence.
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It was Sweden, though, who enjoyed the early ascendancy in the opening match of the day, but a good spell of pressure inside the Kazakhstan 22 went unrewarded, and they were then caught with a sucker punch.
A quick tap penalty on the 22-metre line ended with Lyudmila Sherer, once again showing her qualities in the centre, bursting clear to score from fully 70 metres, despite a desperate last ditch tackle.
After going through three pool matches without scoring a try, Kazakhstan were suddenly having no trouble in finding their way over line.
A passage of unrelenting pressure resulted in Sherer being held up over the line, but it was only a temporary reprieve for Sweden as captain Anna Yakovleva picked up from base of the resulting scrum to force her way over.
Aigerym Daurembayeva added the conversion to give Kazakhstan a 12-0 lead after 20 minutes. The deficit could have been swiftly cut but Sweden captain Ulrika Andersson-Hall missed with two penalty attempts.
The territorial and possession percentages were heavily tilted in Sweden's favour, but they could find no way through a committed and physical Kazakhstan defence, while their opponents would sporadically suggest that they had more tries in them every time they worked the ball through the hands.
Such moments were rare though, and Sweden finally made the breakthrough when Andersson-Hall stroked over a penalty from in front of the posts late in the first half.
There was still time for Kazakhstan lock Svetlana Karatygina to see yellow and Sweden started the second half keen to take advantage of their numerical advantage.
Sweden injected more pace in to their game at the start of the second half and only a great tackle by Daurembayeva denied Karin Hedlund a try, after the Sweden wing found a rare hole in the Kazakhstan defence.
Kazakhstan were soon back to 14 players, though, when prop Olga Rudoy was yellow carded for a high tackle, although Andersson-Hall was unable to inflict further punishment on the Asian champions as her penalty fell short.
Once again, though, Sweden could make little inroad into the lead, despite their numerical advantage and pinning Kazakhstan inside their own 22.
A sniping break by Frida Ryberg brought Kazakhstan their third yellow card - replacement Amina Baratova the offending party - and finally Sweden found a way through when the scrum half darted through a gap to touchdown and set up a nervy finish in the battle to avoid finishing 12th.
Karatygina ended the match on the sidelines after picking up a
second yellow card, which led to a frantic finish as Sweden
pressed, forward but Kazakhstan held on to claim their first win of
POST MATCH REACTION:
Kazakhstan coach Valeriy Popov: "It was a very tough game. We haven't had any possibility to show our full strengths at this event because of a lack of test events and 15-a-side rugby. But nevertheless we are proud that we won.
"This World Cup was very interesting, fascinating and amazing. We had a great chance to watch a very beautiful games between some teams."
Kazakhstan captain Anna Yakovleva: "It was a very tough game, but today success was on our side and we were lucky enough to win. In the first half was had two very successful tries from our players.
"In the second half there were too many yellow cards and we weren't able to show our strengths. We were forced to do our best and we showed our abilities to win the match. We lost four games but we are very glad and very happy that we gained 11th place, and not the last."
Sweden coach Jonas Ahl: "We are quite down at the moment but we will see what the review is like when it comes. It's a great bunch of girls and they are really putting everything in there, sacrificing quite a lot, they paid quite a lot themselves just to be here so I'm proud of them.
"I just hope the girls stay together and keep working. In England, I think women's rugby is going to grow massively because of Sky and there is quite a lot of people watching it on television and you can see the quality of the games has been rising and so that women can play rugby and they can play really well."
Sweden captain Ulrika Andersson-Hall: "Of course, we wanted to win it, but I think we performed pretty well. I think we can hold our heads up high for this tournament, we just have to go home and work on our finishing a bit more.
"We put pressure on and I think we kept our patience very well. I really can't answer why we didn't score more points. This tournament is definitely going to bring rugby forward in Sweden and I think that it is going to pick up more girls but hopefully they have seen some rugby back home as well."
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