The Springbok Sevens team finished fourth at the Gold Coast Sevens on the weekend as an extra-time, energy-sapping semi-final loss to the hosts hurt their chances of finishing third, as well as Australia’s chances of victory in the Cup final.
It took two periods of extra time before the Aussies won, and that proved too much for South Africa to overcome in the third place match after they had earlier lost captain Kyle Brown to a concussion in a quarterfinal win over Wales.
Australia were boosted by their win over South Africa and raced into a 12-0 lead over New Zealand in the title-decider, but the exertions of their semi-final win came back to haunt them as the Kiwis ran out 40-19 winners to lift the Cup.
It was a first World Series tournament in charge for coach Neil Powell and there was plenty for him to be happy about.
The Blitzbokke excelled on day one of the two-day event, defeating France 29- 5, Spain 38-7 and England 22-14. On day two South Africa then beat Wales 28-21 in the quarterfinals and England tested New Zealand before going down 14-5 to set up the playoff for third place.
With South Africa’s energy reserves having been depleted in the semi-finals, which included two stints with players in the sin bin, England ran out 47-0 victors to finish third.
Commenting on his team’s performances afterwards, coach Powell said: “The guys all showed a willingness to implement the minor tweaks we spoke about before each game. I also think they showed a lot of courage and commitment, especially against Wales and Australia.”
The next round of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place on 29 and 30 November in Dubai. South Africa was drawn in Group D for the tournament with Samoa, Argentina and Russia.
In Dubai in 2012, South Africa failed to advance to the Cup competition after a shock 10-12 loss to Portugal in pool play. The Blitzbokke went on to finish as runners-up in the plate (10th place) after a 10-14 defeat to Argentina. They’ll be looking for a much better performance than that this time around.
A week after the Dubai Sevens, on the weekend of 7 and 8 December, the third round of the nine-stop series, the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, will be played in Port Elizabeth.
After a narrow loss to New Zealand in the semi-finals in Port Elizabeth last year, South Africa crushed Argentina 35-0 to finish third.
Only once previously have the Blitzbokke claimed a World Series victory on home soil. That came in George in 2008 and followed a win in Dubai a week earlier. South Africa went on to be crowned the overall World Series winners.
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