The Blitzboks fought back from 19-0 down to beat Fiji 29-24 in extra time and win the final of the Los Angeles Sevens on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
In an incredible contest between two of sevens rugby’s powerhouses, Fiji looked set to be cruising to victory after scoring three first-half tries to race to a 19-point lead.
However, as they have demonstrated so often in the past, Neil Powell’s side just does not know when it is beaten and kept fighting to stay in the contest.
Blitzboks captain Stedman Gans pulled a try back for his team just before half time. Selvyn Davids then had the chance to make it a five-point game when he scored shortly into the second half. However, he missed the conversion and South Africa had it all to do when Fiji veteran Jerry Tuwai reached over to extend their lead to make it a 12-point game with three minutes to go.
Powell decided to turn to his veterans as he brought on Chris Dry off the bench and the forward made an immediate impact as he powered over the line.
Branco du Preez then came on, replacing Davids after he missed the conversion to Dry’s try. The Blitzboks won possession back from the kick-off and, after Fiji lost a player to a yellow card, Du Preez scored after the hooter to give himself a chance of taking the game into extra time. Despite the fact that the try was wide of the posts, he showed all of his experience to nail the conversion and make it 24-24.
It was then two Blitzbok youngsters who combined to win the game for South Africa. Kurt-Lee Arendse carried the ball forward before offloading to 21-year-old Sako Makata, who shrugged off the attentions of a Fiji attacker to score.
South Africa, who impressively beat New Zealand 17-0 in the semi-finals, now trail the Kiwis by just four points on the overall World Sevens Series table.