The Springbok Sevens lost their Bowl final 14-10 against Argentina in Dubai on Saturday evening and now head home to South Africa where they will be looking to redeem themselves at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth next weekend.
The Blitzbokke uncharacteristically lost three of their six matches in Dubai, including two crucial encounters on Friday, to register their most disappointing display at the HSBC Sevens World Series since Wellington 2001.
The first few teams will arrive in Port Elizabeth this evening at approximately 9.20pm in Port Elizabeth from Johannesburg while the second group, including home team South Africa, are expected to land at 10.20pm in the Friendly City.
Former IRB Sevens Player of the Year Cecil Africa will join the squad in Port Elizabeth on Monday but he will only come into consideration for selection if he passes a fitness test. The Blitzbokke will also name a replacement for injured skipper, Kyle Brown, who suffered a broken ankle on Friday against England after less than two minutes of play in their opening pool match.
Argentina was first to score in the Bowl final when Matias Moroni took advantage of a SA handling error to open the scoring with a converted try. He then crossed the line for a second time barely a minute later to hand Argentina a 14-0 lead just before the break.
Veteran forward Frankie Horne used his power and pace to set up and then score South Africa’s first try just after half time (14-5). Later, Tshotsho Mbovane closed the gap to just four points with a well-worked try in the corner for the Blitzbokke.
However, Argentina managed to do just enough to keep South Africa from scoring and to add the Bowl trophy to the Plate they won at the Gold Coast last month.
After a disappointing day at the office on Friday, the Blitzbokke won their two earlier games on Saturday to reach the Bowl final.
They came from behind to beat Russia 25-12 in their quarterfinal before defeating the United States 22-14 to book a spot in the final against Argentina.
South Africa fielded a much shuffled team and took a while to settle and find their rhythm before coming from behind to lead the physical Russians 12-5 at the break. A much better performance in the second half, as well as tries from Stephen Hunt, Warren Whiteley and veteran Frankie Horne saw them home safely.
Against the United States, a strong run from Cornal Hendricks gave the Blitzbokke their first try and the tall winger added a second shortly afterwards for a 10-0 halftime lead.
Second-half tries by Colin Hawley and Carlin Isles brought the US back into the game, but Tshotsho Mbovane’s touchdown and a late try by Stephan Dippenaar secured the match for South Africa.
Afterwards Springbok Sevens coach, Paul Treu, said his team will now try to put their Dubai disappointment behind them as quickly as possible and to regroup for their home tournament next week in Port Elizabeth.
“Overall, it was a very disappointing tournament for us. We now have a week to regroup, get our focus back and to make amends in front of our home supporters in Port Elizabeth,” said Treu.
The Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series, takes place on 8 and 9 December in the Friendly City of Port Elizabeth.