The SA U18 Sevens side lost 28-5 to Japan in the bronze medal match at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires on Monday.
The side endured a shaky start to the tournament, losing 14-12 to Japan and 17-12 to France. South Africa bounced back, though, with a 19-12 victory over the USA.
However, a 34-5 hiding from eventual gold medallists Argentina followed. The team qualified for the third-place playoff by beating Samoa 31-7 to finish fourth on the overall standings.
It was there that they again faced third-placed Japan, who were faster out of the blocks, scoring two tries through Kentaro Fujii and Taisei Konishi to take a 14-0 lead in the opening four minutes.
There was no further addition to the scoreboard before the break. Japan extended their lead shortly after half-time as Konishi grabbed his second.
With two minutes to go, Konishi went over for his hat-trick to make it 28-0 and all but seal the game for Japan. Ofentse Maubane managed to cross the line for South Africa, but it proved to be a consolation as Japan ran out comfortable winners.
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