Blitzboks superstar Seabelo Senatla scored a late try to clinch a thrilling 31-26 win over Fiji in the Cup quarter-finals of the Cape Town Sevens. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
After an undefeated opening day, the Blitzboks’ Cape Town dream appeared set to be dashed when Fiji roared into a 21-5 lead on Sunday, but the hosts completed a remarkable comeback from there.
The Blitzboks endured the worst possible start to the quarter-final when a penalty try was conceded after a high tackle from Senatla prevented an obvious five-pointer from being completed.
To make matters worse, Senatla was sent to the sin bin, and in his absence Fiji scored almost immediately through Waisea Nacuqu.
That sent the islanders into a commanding 14-point lead, but the Blitzboks finally sent the Cape Town crowd into full voice when Werner Kok rounded the defence to score.
Senatla’s horror quarter-final continued, though, as he returned to play and immediately conceded another try when he was bumped off in a tackle by the powerful Josua Vakurunabili, who went over unopposed.
Fiji’s third try left the Blitzboks with a (Table) mountain to climb as they fell 16 points behind, but crucially just before the break, Justin Geduld broke away to score.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) December 10, 2017
With hope restored, South Africa made the perfect start to proceedings in the second half when a beautiful long pass put Senatla away to score in the corner.
The failed conversion left the Springbok Sevens trailing by four points with just five minutes to play, but Fiji quickly powered back into a handy 26-17 advantage after Kalione Nasoko broke away for his team’s fourth try.
Momentum continued to ebb and flow, though, as Kwagga Smith next went over to score for the Blitzboks, which made it a two-point ball game with as many minutes to play.
Then came the match-defining moment of magic as Fiji lost control of the ball, and Senatla darted away for a redemptive try that sent the Blitzboks into the Cup semi-finals.
Photo: Carl Fourie/@Blitzboks/Twitter