England hold off Blitzbokke
Cape Town - England held off a late fightback to beat the Springbok Sevens team in their Cup quarter-final at the Glasgow Sevens on Sunday.
England won 19-14, after leading 12-0 at half-time.
England looked set for a comfortable victory, leading 19-7 with less than two minutes to play before a late surge from the South Africans almost pulled off an unlikely win.
Branco du Preez scored a brilliant try with less than a minute to go when he broke from a scrum inside his own half. He converted to give his team hope after they had been outplayed for most of the encounter.
Then, with 30 seconds left and leading 19-14, England tried to keep the ball in hand to wind down the clock, but crucially conceded possession to allow South Africa one last attacking chance from which they so nearly scored, only for Steven Hunt to knock the ball on in contact five metres from the goal-line.
After initial consultation with his assistant, referee James Jones from Wales blew full-time to give England the victory.
England started the match like a house on fire, scoring after just 31 seconds when former University of Cape Town speedster Matt Turner sailed over. Tom Mitchell converted for a 7-0 lead.
England dominated possession and territory for much of the first period, with the South Africans lacking penetration on attack.
Their dominance was rewarded when Dan Norton rounded off a brilliant solo-attempt. He chip-kicked the ball over the South African defence before outsprinting Jamba Ulengo to dot down near the corner flag. Mitchell missed the conversion but England took a 12-0 advantage into the break.
England started the second half with an attack deep into South African territory but a turnover saw Cornal Hendricks break through to run almost the length of the field to put the Blitzbokke back into contention. Du Preez converted from the touchline to bring his side to within five points (7-12).
But their joy was short-lived though, with England hitting back immediately as some slack SA defence allowed Turner to finish a good attacking move under the posts for his second try. Mitchell converted for a 19-7 lead.
South Africa showed some good fight though and just when all seemed lost Du Preez's heroics brought them back into contention, only for coach Paul Treu's men to experience another heartbreaking loss with Hunt's knock-on right at the death.
South Africa now go into the Plate competition, where they will face Samoa in the semi-finals later on Sunday, while England will play Fiji in the Cup semis.