Blitzbokke back from the dead

2011-05-29 19:19
Steven Hunt (File)
Edinburgh - Sibusiso Sithole scored a solo try from the final phase of the match to give the Blitzbokke a 36-35 win over Australia in the final of the season-ending HSBC World Sevens Series.

Results from the Edinburgh Sevens

The win was one of the most remarkable turnaround performances by any team in a HSBC Sevens World Series Cup final.

Injury-hit South Africa, who had only two fit reserves available for the final, came back from being 7-28 down to snatch victory at the very end of an epic Cup final at Murrayfield, the spiritual home of Sevens rugby.

Their win was also the team's first successive Cup title victories since 2008, when they won the Dubai and George tournaments within the space of two weeks. Last week Kyle Brown's team captured the London Sevens crown at Twickenham.

Also, the team finished second overall on the HSBC Sevens World series standings with 140 points, 16 behind champions New Zealand.

The Blitzbokke lost Branco du Preez (ankle) and Neil Powell (rib) on Saturday already through injury and on Sunday they also had to play the final without inspirational skipper Kyle Brown (ankle) while Paul Delport was carried off on a stretcher midway through the first half of the absorbing first half.

He sustained concussion and his condition was described as stable afterwards.

Australia, who lost 19-5 against South Africa in the pool stages on Saturday, started in determined fashion and scored three tries to one to lead 21-7 at halftime. Bernard Foley (2) and Jonathon Lance scored for the Aussies while Steven Hunt scored the solo SA try.

Delport then injured himself when he rushed to stop an attack, injuring his head in the process.

Henry Vanderglas scored straight from the restart to stretch the Aussie led to 28-7 before Frankie Horne and Bernado Botha reduced the deficit to 28-19.

Foley then scored what appeared to be the match winner for Australia, but South Africa had other ideas.

Hunt scored again in the corner before Sithole gathered the ball from a ruck, and with the sound of the siren in the background, powered his way through the defence to score the match-winning try.

The team played in four of the last five World Series tournament finals, scooping three tournament titles on offer in Las Vegas, London and Edinburg.

Paul Treu, the SA Sevens coach, described the fight-back as unbelievable. "Australia made a good start and we had to give it everything we got. We were severely disrupted by the injuries and apart from the injured players, Frankie also shouldered on bravely despite hurting his knee early on Saturday.

"What can you say after a performance like that? They refused to give in and South Africa can be very proud of these young men," said Treu. 

South Africa had finished unbeaten and top of their pool on Saturday and on Sunday they started brightly against a powerful Samoa outfit, scoring an impressive 28-5 win. Hunt, Afrika, Brown and Sithole all scored a try each.

Wales offered greater resistance and, much like last week, they ran the Springbok Sevens very close to almost register their first win in 23 attempts against South Africa, who won 22-19 at the end of a gruelling encounter.

The final HSBC Sevens World series standings:

1.    New Zealand 166 points
2.    South Africa 140
3.    England 127
4.    Fiji 122
5.    Samoa 120

Top point scorer:
Cecil Afrika (SA) 385

Top try scorer:

Cecil Afrika (SA) 40

Read more on:    sibusiso sithole  |  steven hunt


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