Blitzboks fourth, Fiji first

The Blitzboks slumped to a 26-24 defeat against England in their bronze-medal match at the Singapore Sevens, while Fiji claimed a thrilling 28-22 victory over Australia in the final. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

It’s a set of results that will be a bitter pill for the Blitzboks to swallow. Coming into this tournament, they held a tenuous three-point lead at the summit of the standings, but Fiji are now four points clear at the top.

The Springbok Sevens had to settle for a third-place playoff in Singapore after slipping to an agonising defeat to arch-rivals Fiji in their quarter-final, and their woes continued when England clinched a narrow victory.

The Blitzboks had established a 10-0 lead early on in the bronze-medal match after Muller du Plessis and Cecil Afrika dotted down, but England swiftly hit back with three quickfire tries to take a 19-10 lead at the break.

Two of those tries came at a time when Du Plessis was in the sin bin, and it again illustrated the dangers of playing with a one-man disadvantage, which was something that also haunted the Blitzboks in their quarter-final.

However, the Blitzboks came out firing soon after the restart, with Stedman Gans and Werner Kok both scoring superb tries to send South Africa into a 24-19 lead.

In a dramatic finish, though, England went over for a decisive match-winning try, before producing an immense defensive effort to thwart one final attack from the Blitzboks.

To make matters worse for the Springbok Sevens, they then saw arch-rivals Fiji claim another important tournament victory that sets them up as favourites to clinch the series title with just two tournaments remaining.

Australia had looked set to clinch a memorable victory in the final when they led by a point late in the game, but Fiji underlined their class with a stunning final try with the last play of the match.

REPORT: Fiji fightback floors Blitzboks

Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP Photo

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Mariette Adams