The Blitzboks produced a powerful performance to claim an impressive 31-12 win over Fiji in their Vancouver Sevens semi-final. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
In their quarter-final clash, the Blitzboks claimed a convincing 33-12 win over Argentina, and they continued to turn on the style against Fiji to claim a comprehensive win that was built around superior execution and physical dominance, especially out wide on the two flanks, where JC Pretorius and Zain Davids were stationed.
The result sees the Blitzboks advance to their first Cup final of the season, where they will take on surprise package France, who stunned the USA 33-5 in the other semi.
The opening four minutes of the match was a tough tussle as both sides looked to make a breakthrough. It would be Fiji to score first, though, when an ill-judged kick by Stedman Gans sat up for Aminiasi Tuimaba, who scuttled down the left wing to dot down in the corner.
But the South Africans hit back with a beautifully-worked try that saw Gans run on to a well-timed pass before stepping off his right foot twice to flummox two defenders on his way to the tryline. Selvyn Davids popped over the conversion to put the Blitzboks in the lead.
With time running out in the first half, it looked like the Blitzboks would hold on to the slender two-point advantage, but they struck a telling blow from the kick-off when Impi Visser leapt high and slapped the ball back into the path of Pretorius, who went on a strong run. From there, they just used quick hands to shift the ball wide to Davids for a second try and a 14-5 lead at the break.
What South Africa did to good effect was to starve Fiji of territory and possession. On the few occasions they had the ball, Fiji were forced to attack from deep in their own half, and more often than not the Blitzboks’ swarming defence curtailed their efforts.
Fiji had no answer to the physicality of the South Africans, which was confirmed when the Blitzboks were hot on attack and Visser intelligently switched play to the short side, where he drew a couple of defenders, but still managed to get the ball away to Justin Geduld to score in the corner.
At 19-5 with four minutes remaining, there was still plenty of time left for Fiji to make a comeback. But in the form the Blitzboks were in, they were never going to allow that to happen, and they didn’t. Instead, South Africa’s replacement Muller du Plessis came on and grabbed a brace within seconds of each other to leave the Fijians down and out.
Captain Jerry Tuwai did score a late effort for Fiji, who will now fight it out for a third-place finish with the USA.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) March 10, 2019