The Blitzboks finished top of their pool and qualified for the Cup quarter-finals of the Sydney Sevens despite losing 29-21 to Australia on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
After an initial shocking start for the Blitzboks that saw them struggle to deal with the Australian restarts, they responded well to falling 17-0 behind. A quick-fire start to the second half gave South Africa a 21-17 lead.
However, the Blitzboks missed a massive chance to knock the tournament’s defending champions out as the Australians scored two tries in the closing stages to ensure the win by the five-plus points they needed to qualify for the playoffs ahead of Argentina.
Neil Powell’s men take on England in the quarter-finals on Sunday at 4am.
IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THIS.
Time up on the clock. Try needed to qualify for Cup QFs on home soil.
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) February 2, 2019
Australia started the match well as Jeral Skelton took advantage of some poor defending to score the opening try of the match.
Minutes later, the hosts took advantage of a dropped kick-off from Justin Geduld before Lewis Holland stepped past some would-be tacklers for their second.
Another dropped kick-off, again from Geduld, saw the ball spread out wide, with Holland acrobatically diving over in the corner for his second and Australia’s third, leaving the Blitzboks in trouble midway through the first half.
The Blitzboks then finally saw some possession and got into Australia’s 22. Geduld atoned for his earlier errors by dancing past a couple of players to dot down and get the South Africans back into the match, with the score 17-7 at the break.
The Blitzboks won a scrum from the kick-off before Siviwe Soyizwapi made a break and popped the ball up to Geduld, who scored his brace to make it a three-point game. Geduld then turned provider as some aggressive defence allowed the Blitzboks to turn the ball over in the Australian 22 and the ball was shifted to Stedman Gans, who finished well to put the visitors ahead.
Gans saw yellow for an intentional knockdown, which the hosts immediately punished as Josh Coward sprinted 60m to allow them to retake the lead.
The Blitzboks went for the win after the hooter, but lost the ball in a promising position, and the Australians, needing a win by at least five points to qualify for the playoffs, went on the offensive, which ended with Nick Malouf making a powerful run to score the decisive try.
Earlier in the day, braces from Gans, Werner Kok and Soyizwapi got the Blitzboks’ Sydney campaign off to a storming start as they smashed Tonga 45-5.
The Blitzboks then faced a tougher test against Argentina, who took a 5-0 lead before Soyizwapi levelled the scores with a try in first-half stoppage time. Soyizwapi then scored his second, before tries from Selvyn Davids, Justin Geduld and Gans pushed them to a 25-10 win.
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