Blitzbokke ousted by Fiji

2012-10-14 08:54
Branco du Preez (File)
Cape Town - Poor decision making has cost the Blitzbokke in their Cup semi-final against Fiji at the Gold Coast Sevens in Queensland, Australia on Sunday.

Fiji, an old nemesis of South Africa, won 21-10, after leading 14-7 at the break.

But South Africa will wonder how they let this one slip, with some key errors at critical times proving their undoing.

The Islanders made a bright start when Ulaiyasi Lawavou Tavucuilagi went over under the post early on, with Joji Baleviani Raqamate converting for a 7-0 lead.

However, the Blitzbokke hit back with a superb try from playmaker Cecil Afrika, with Branco du Preez converting to level matters and were now in the ascendancy with the first period nearing its end. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Cornal Hendricks looked certain to round off after a concerted period of dominance only to knock the ball on with the tryline beckoning.

The Fijians were quick to counter and sprinted the length of the field, with Raqamate finishing off against the run of play. He converted his own try to put his side 14-7 up at half-time.

The Blitzbokke came out firing in the second period, piling pressure on their opponents, but struggled against a resilient defence. They got their chance midway through the half when Ilai Tinai was sin-binned with the referee getting impatient with a string of penalties conceded by the Islanders.

However, instead of utilising their numerical advantage, South Africa inexplicably seemed content to kick the ball. Camped deep into the Fijian 22m area Branco du Preez decided to kick a drop goal. He succeeded in fine fashion to bring the score back to 10-14, but questions must be asked why a decision like that was taken with his team seven points down.

In sevens rugby players who are sin-binned only stay off the field for one minute and one would expect South Africa to try and utilise their one-man advantage. They had another chance to run against the six men of Fiji when they received a penalty in their own half a few seconds later. However, the decision to kick for touch was made and by now Tinai was allowed back onto the field to make it seven against seven again - and Fiji still leading.

South Africa fought bravely to try grab a late winner but never really threatened and were put out of their misery when Tinai scored a late try after the hooter had sounded. Raqamate converted for a 21-10 win - a score which somewhat flatters the winners and leaving South Africa wondering how they let that one slip.

Earlier on Sunday, South Africa qualified for the semi-finals with a 26-14 quarter-final win over France. On Saturday they impressed with wins over New Zealand (31-21), Canada (38-0) and the US (33-5).

Fiji will now play New Zealand in the final, after the Kiwis beat Kenya 15-5 in their semi-final, while South Africa will play Kenya (10:32 SA time) for third place honours.

Latest results from the second day of the Gold Coast Sevens, the opening leg of the IRB's Sevens World Series, on Sunday:



New Zealand 15 Kenya 5
Fiji 21 South Africa 10


Argentina 17 Australia 14
France 21 Samoa 7


Spain 26 Wales 17
England 24 Canada 19


Scotland 33 Portugal 0
USA 33 Tonga 26



South Africa
26 France 14
Fiji 19 Samoa 7
New Zealand 12 Argentina 7
Kenya 21 Australia 14


Canada 31 Portugal 0
England 35 Scotland 7
Wales 27 USA 19
Spain 24 Tonga 7


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