Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Dubai - France produced one of their best Sevens performances in
decades to shock the Springboks 19-5 in their Emirates Airline Dubai
Sevens quarter-final on Saturday.
After the Blitzbokke’s sensational win over World Series champs New
Zealand on Friday night, much was expected from Paul Treu’s side against
France in the quarters, but they never turned up on day two, something
that will forever haunt them after this tournament.
With so much going their way - a good draw, good form and an open road
to the final theirs for the taking, the Blitzbokke simply needed to play
to the same standards as they did on day one, but found this a tougher
task than imagined.
The French were up for the game, dominating the breakdown and using
their rush defence to good effect. But had they encountered a Springbok
Sevens team even close to the form they showed on day one, then it would
have been a different matter.
Instead the Blitzbokke refused to go wide in the first half, and then
were beaten at the breakdown, made a number of forced errors when in
possession and missed tackles too easily. To illustrate this, the missed
tackle count was 8-1 in favour of South Africa while another stat –
that the Blitzbokke were only once in their opposition 22 metre area,
also tells a story.
The Blitzbokke will need to get themselves up for the Plate now, where
they will face Wales in the semi-final, but while the points will be at a
premium, their Dubai tournament will still be dubbed a failure.
Their loss wasn’t the only shock of the day, where England beat New
Zealand 10-7 in their quarter-final, while Australia were swamped by Fiji
34-7. In the other half of the draw, Argentina beat Wales 7-5 in a
scrappy affair to book their quarter-final place.
The Blitzbokke will face Wales at 12:30 (CAT, GMT+2).