That is the view of head coach Renfred Dazel, who said he was more than happy with the performance of his squad, especially as he was expecting the team to struggle on the second day.

"I knew the second day would be tough for us, as the bodies were sore and we have one or two injuries after yesterday and we then had to do it all over again. And we did that, so I am very proud. Finishing tenth when we were ranked 12th is a huge positive for me," said Dazel, adding that they have a baseline now which will help with the consistency they are looking for.

"We know we will be competitive in the series - we saw that in Dubai. The next step is to back that up in the next tournament, which comes quickly with the Cape Town Sevens. If we can be consistent in our performances, we will achieve our goal, which is to have a top eight finish this season."

The South Africans scored their first victory in the new series on Sunday when they beat Spain, but were then edged in the ninth-placed final by Japan.

Co-captain Mathrin Simmers said they took huge strides in the tournament: "We are a happy group with regards to that. We wanted to make sure we do well, as that would give us some confidence and comfort that we indeed belong in this elite competition. We now feel much better about that and are looking towards the future with confidence."

Simmers said good lessons were learned: "Our game management is not what it can be, we lacked a bit there, but that will grow with experience gained. We can have a look back at the positives and where we came up short and how to rectify that. Overall, it was a good tournament for us, I feel."

Rights Mkhari said the performances in Dubai highlighted the growth of the squad in recent months.

"We came here to set a standard for ourselves, to see where we are in comparison to the other teams," she said. "We now know more than three days ago and now have a base to work from.

"As a team, we did well, we really fought for each other and left nothing out on the field, we also came so close in a couple of games. We wanted to beat Japan in the last game in order to take that into next week in Cape Town, but we just came up short."

Mkhari feels playing at home in Cape Town next weekend will be a huge boost for the team: "I am very positive about the performances; I think we will have good support in Cape Town next weekend and do ourselves and our country proud."

Rights Mkhari with the tryline in sight.

Rights Mkhari with the tryline in sight.

Japan outplayed South Africa by two tries to one in their ninth-place final, with both tries conceded in the first half. The Bok Women were hampered by an unfortunate injury to Zintle Mpupha early in the first half and that impacted their defensive effort. Japan also scored a try from a turn-over near the SA line, another area where they had dominance in the first half, forcing three turnovers.

South Africa were on the back foot in the first half and only managed seven carries and 10 passes in the opening half. Things were much better in the second half, although they also lost Simamkele Namba with an injury.

Nadine Roos managed to send Mkhari away for a try, but sadly they could not cross the Japanese line again to square matters and the 12-5 scoreline was the final one.

Earlier on Sunday, the Springbok Women outplayed Spain 17-0. Playing without the services of flyhalf Libbie Janse van Rensburg, they put in a determined defensive effort and some sublime skills from playmakers Simmers and Roos which helped secure the win, but no one will argue that it was indeed a team effort that got them past the 10th ranked team in HSBC SVNS.

Simmers was instrumental in the opening score, when she started a move on her own try-line and when she offloaded to Roos 40m later, the speedster could run in to score in the corner.

Some good rush defence kept Spain under pressure, with the consequence that they started to force passes. From one such a pass, the ball was worked out to Mkhari, who scored in the same corner as Roos. That pushed the lead out to 10-0 at the break.

The second half was more of the same, but with more possession, the South Africans had more attacking opportunities. From one of those, Roos kicked ahead and gathered the ball herself for a second try, which she also converted for a 17-0 lead, and it remained that way till the final whistle.

In the end, it was a rewarding outing, with the team showing they can play against the best. They conceded 69 points and scored 58, while as the 12th ranked team going into the completion, managed a 10th place finish.

Scorers - day two: 

South Africa 17 (10), Spain 0 (0)
SA - Tries: Nadine Roos (2), Rights Mkhari. Conversion: Roos.

South Africa 5 (0), Japan 12 (12)
SA - Try: Rights Mkhari.
Japan - Tries: Fumiko Otake, Sakura Mizutani. Conversion: Arisha Nishi