KAZAKHSTAN arrived in Edinburgh for the women's rugby union world championship as an unknown force but will surely depart having gained new-found respect.
Yesterday, the former Soviet Republic gave an impressive display of running rugby against Wales at Raeburn Place and were ahead halfway through the first half before eventually going down 29-8.
Kitted out in an attractive blue-and-black strip and displaying clearly on their cycling shorts the logo of Holsten, their sponsor, Kazakhstan gave Wales a much harder game than expected, but Wales's streetwise knowledge of the game allowed them to dominate the second half. Moreover, the kicking of Amanda Bennett at stand-off half created a cushion for Wales that kept the opposition in arrears in the second half.
Bennett no relation to Phil Bennett, the former Wales stand-off kicked four penalty goals and one conversion and saw another of her conversion attempts rebound off an upright. She also displayed an eye for an opening, although the Wales backs failed to capitalise.
It was the Kazakhstan backs who showed the greater running skills particularly Alfiya Tamaeva, the full back, who kicked a first-half penalty, and Sofiya Kabanova, who scored a try in the first period after a break by Tamaeva.
Wales trailed 8-6 at half-time but took the lead early in the second half when Kate Eaves, the lock, powered her way over from a quickly taken penalty.
Bennett's third and fourth penalties took Wales well clear and, when Eaves scored her second try, again from close range, Kazakhstan's hopes were ended. In the final minute, Wales attempted a push-over try but the Kazakhstan pack collapsed at the scrum. A penalty try was awarded, which Bennett converted.
Copyright (C) The Times, 1994
"Bennett inspires Wales; Women's Rugby Union." Times [London, England] 14 Apr. 1994