The Blitzboks’ composure deserted them as they slumped to a 19-12 defeat against New Zealand in the Cup semi-finals at the Cape Town Stadium on Sunday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The Springbok Sevens relied on an inspired comeback to overcome Fiji in the quarter-finals, but this time their luck ran out as New Zealand displayed greater accuracy and intensity to claim a surprise win.
It was a result that left over 50,000 partisan fans in Cape Town stunned into silence, with their festivity quickly dissipating as the Kiwis claimed a deserved victory.
Ultimately, the Blitzboks failed to display the necessary composure under pressure, while New Zealand exposed holes on defence all too easily.
After a horror start against Fiji, the Blitzboks began semi-final proceedings in emphatic fashion as captain Philip Snyman superbly finished off a well-worked try in the opening minute.
New Zealand’s Joe Ravouvou was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle in the lead-up to the try, but even in his absence, the Kiwis managed to score through Tim Mikkelson.
The successful conversion put New Zealand into the lead, but just before the break, Cecil Afrika took a quick penalty tap and ghosted through the defence to score.
However, within seconds of the restart, New Zealand struck straight back as Vilimoni Koroi broke away for his team’s second try, with the five-pointer drawing the scores level at 12-12.
That set the alarm bells ringing, and South Africa’s worst fears were confirmed when New Zealand manufactured a counter-attack try that was finished off by Joe Webber with just over a minute to play.
There was one final opportunity for the Blitzboks, but a Tim Agaba knock-on ended an opportunistic move, and effectively sent the hosts out of title contention.
Instead, the Springbok Sevens will now face Canada in the third-place playoff.