SA down plucky Portugal
Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens side held off strong resistance from Portugal to win their second group game at the Tokyo Sevens on Saturday.
The Blitzbokke won 12-7, after leading 7-0 at half-time.
In what was a rain-soaked affair at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium, the South Africans ran into a determined Portugal side, buoyed by their earlier narrow 21-20 defeat to much fancied Samoa.
South Africa started well though, with their early domination rewarded when speedster Cornal Hendricks went over after two minutes. Branco du Preez converted for a 7-0 lead.
But the rainy conditions made handling tricky and Portugal got stuck into the game, matching South Africa on the physical front for large parts. South Africa also suffered a setback early in the second half when Chris Dry was yellow carded for slowing the ball down.
Portugal pressed for an equaliser to level matters, but South Africa's defence proved resolute and Du Preez made the game safe with a minute to go when he pounced on a mistake by the Portuguese, kicking the ball through and collecting to score. He missed the conversion but coach Paul Treu's men could breathe a deep sigh of relief after Portugal threatened to sneak a draw.
However, Portugal showed their resolve and fighting spirit when, with time up on the clock and South Africa leading 12-0, No 7 Gonzalo Foro broke through to score a brilliant individual try. He stepped three South African defenders inside his own half before handing off Blitzbok-rookie Dirk Dippenaar to score after the hooter had sounded.
Carl Murray converted to reduce the final score to 12-7.
Earlier on Saturday, the Blitzbokke defeated Scotland 14-0. They take on Samoa at 11:47 (SA time) in their final group game.