Blitsbokke ousted by Fiji
If the Springbok Sevens side were looking for a fairytale, they never found it as they bowed out once again from an IRB Sevens Series tournament in the quarterfinals against Fiji.
In a result that repeated their performance of Dubai and George, where they were pinned by the South Sea maestros at the same stage of the competition, the Boks did all the work, but couldn’t breach the Fijian defence to bow out 21-5 of the Cup competition.
In fact, the run of play was very much like their last two losses, with large portions of the match being played on the Fijian tryline, only to lose the ball in a turnover and concede long distance tries that ultimately sunk them.
And again, the referee heavily penalised Fiji, but again failed to produce a yellow card after a string of six unanswered penalties.
Still, the Boks can feel heartened that while they have not got the same firepower that swept them to the IRB Sevens title last year, they certainly can match the best in the world in both strength and physicality.
But with this year’s series hopes almost gone, the build for the future looks better than ever before, with WP under-21 flyer Steven Hunt making a big impression, while his Blue Bull counterpart Branco du Preez can develop into a star in future.
Du Preez scored the Boks only try against the Fijians, showing a step, vision and enough speed to put his name on the scoresheet.
But this side’s collective responsibility will lie with the senior contracted players, who struggled in the tournament’s big games, and after a solid start, failed to produce the magic needed to give the Boks an advantage.
After attacking for most of the first half, the Boks were behind just before the break after Osea Kolinisau’s long range try from a turnover ruck.
The second half brought the same medicine when Waisale Beci finished off another long range move and despite Du Preez’ try, Seremaia Borutu beat the first line and then stepped Mzwandile Stick at sweeper to finish off the win.
· In the other quarterfinals, hosts and Series leaders New Zealand overcame a spirited Australian side 24-12, while Samoa came from 12-0 down to beat Kenya 14-12.
England had the easiest of the quarters, romping home against Canada 31-0.
· South Africa move on to the Plate competition, hoping for some much needed points, and face Canada. If they win their 7am (SA time) clash, they will face the winner of Kenya and Australia in their third consecutive Plate final.