Dewald Human scored a hat-trick as the Blitzboks beat New Zealand 24-12 in the semi-finals of the Paris Sevens on Sunday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Blitzboks were dealt a big blow before the clash, with news that Seabelo Senatla had been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament after suffering a groin injury in the quarter-final against Spain earlier in the day. His place was taken by Rhyno Smith, who joined the squad as injury cover on Saturday.
The physical nature of this game was outstanding. And to say this was South Africa’s best performance in Paris this weekend, would be an understatement. The team finally reached Blitzboks mode and Human was at the forefront of that change in attitude.
Their brutal physicality, supreme defence and excellent support play ― all of which were sorely missing in their previous four games ― were just too much for New Zealand.
Werner Kok scored in the opening minute after New Zealand failed to secure possession from the kick-off. The regulation conversion attempt in front of the posts though was skewed by Human.
New Zealand were lucky to be only five points in arrears at the break, as South Africa dominated territory and possession. But they couldn’t hold on in the second half as Human and Ruhan Nel scored in quick succession for a 17-point advantage.
New Zealand hit back through Johan Nareki and Joe Ravouvou, but Human’s third try, in-between those two scores, sealed the result for the Blitzboks.
The result keeps the Blitzboks on course for the series title. If Fiji beat the USA to finish fifth at the Paris Sevens, the Blitzboks will need to beat England in the final at 6:54pm (SA time) to retain their Sevens Series crown. If Fiji lose, the Blitzboks are series champions no matter what happens in the final.