The Blitzboks will face Fiji in the Cup final of the Hamilton Sevens after they beat Australia 24-5 in the semi-finals on Sunday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
This semi-final was a rematch of last weekend’s Sydney final, which the hosts won 29-0, but there was nothing similar in terms of how the two games were played.
Both teams had their fair share of possession, but South Africa smartly won the territorial battle, kicking into Australia’s half at every opportunity and exerting pressure from there.
When Australia won a relieving penalty deep inside their half, they kicked for touch. But an error from the lineout led to South Africa’s opening try. When James Stannard slipped and lost control of the ball, Kwagga Smith had the presence of mind to kick it forward. He then won the footrace to secure possession and shifted the ball wide to Cecil Afrika for a try in the corner.
The Blitzboks struck another blow when Tim Agaba poached a lineout ball. When possession was transferred, Werner Kok made the outside break before freeing up Seabelo Senatla for the second try to double South Africa’s lead.
However, Senatla went from hero to villain when an attempted intercept earned him a yellow card after the referee deemed it to be a deliberate knock-on. The numerical disadvantage counted against the Blitzboks in defence as Tim Amstee burrowed over to reduce the deficit for Australia.
But the Blitzboks regained their composure in the second half and completely shut Australia out.
When Australia broke through the Blitzboks’ defensive line, the South Africans chased back desperately, with Rosko Specman and Smith making try-saving tackles metres away from the tryline. And while Australia did get the ball away, the pressure from Specman and Smith was enough to ensure the offload didn’t go to hand.
The Aussies were made to regret a partial charge-down right on the 22, when the ball squirted loose and captain Kyle Brown grabbed hold of possession. In a swift movement, he placed the ball in Afrika’s path and the veteran needed no second invitation to canter away for a try at the other end of the field.
To add insult to injury, Smith humiliated Australia’s defence when he shrugged off five (yes five) attempted tackles to walk in a try under the posts to seal the one-sided victory.
The Blitzboks will now meet Fiji, who beat New Zealand 14-12 in their semi-final, in the final at 09:03 (SA time).
— World Rugby Sevens (@WorldRugby7s) February 4, 2018
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