The Blitzboks suffered a 7-0 defeat against Australia in the plate final of the Dubai Sevens.
Paul Treu’s men disappointed as they produced stale performances in their defeats against Fiji in the Cup quarterfinals and against a young Australian outfit, but did well to earn a hard-fought victory against high-flying Kenya in the plate play-offs.
In the plate final, South Africa stole the early momentum with strong play up front which saw them create a couple of early scoring opportunities, but a solid defence from Australia kept the defending champions out.
This proved costly as the Australians went ahead 7-0 against the run of play after a good kick and chase, which proved to be the last action of the first half.
After the break, the match turned into physical encounter as both sides contested ferociously at the breakdown. Good work from Franki Horn and Kyle Brown saw South Africa have most of the possession in Australia’s half, but the Boks failed to capitalise.
With 30 seconds remaining, the Boks had a final opportunity to draw level with a scrum 25m out, but they lacked composure and a knock-on from MJ Mentz dashed their last hopes of going into extra-time.
Australia almost lost possession in the resulting scrum, but the Boks lost the ball forward again, ending the game.
Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks met Kenya in the plate semi-final. Rayno Benjamin, who’s been on a scoring spree in Dubai, scored the Boks’ first try after set piece move from a penalty tap 5m out. However, Kenya took the lead with a converted try right on the half-time mark.
In the second stanza, the Boks put themselves in front again. Good interplay and continuity saw Mzwandile Stick in for South Africa’s second touch down and added the extras to make it 12-7.
But again the Kenyans hit back as Colins Injera ran in the corner after stretching Boks’ defence. A good conversion saw them ahead.
Kenya were reduced to six players after ill-discipline at the breakdown. After constant pressure, the Boks finally scored the winning try as Stick kicked the ball across the field to Benjamin, who dived over to secure their place in the plate final with a 17-14 win.
Earlier in the Cup section, the Boks were eliminated in the quarterfinals with a 17-5 defeat against Fiji.
The defending champions started the game off strongly, working their way up the field through several set phases, displaying good physicality and composure, but a mistake from Mpho Mbiyozo prevented the Boks from finishing off.
Benjamin, however, opened the scoring moments later after Fiji lost the ball in their 22. Mentz secured possession at the breakdown and executed a good switch move with Paul Delport. The skipper then passed the ball to the unmarked Benjamin to score in the corner.
Ryder brought the Fijians level in the final minute of the first stanza with an effective chip and chase, sprinting past the Boks’ defence and diving on the ball unchallenged.
Shortly after the break, Fiji scored an early converted try to put pressure on the Boks as they found themselves behind with four minutes remaining.
Too many individual mistakes from the South Africans saw them restricted in their own half and allowed Fiji to dominate. The Pacific Islanders eventually sealed the game as they scored a last-minute try to eliminated the Boks.
Meanwhile, eight-time World Series champions New Zealand claimed the main prize with a 24-12 win against Samoa in the Cup final.
The World Series now continues in South Africa, where the next tournament will be held in George on 11 and 12 December.
Dubai Sevens final results:
Cup semi-final 1: Fiji 0 New Zealand 19
Cup semi-final 2: England 19 Samoa 28
Shield final: Portugal 14 Russia 17
Bowl final: Zimbabwe 7 Wales 38
Plate final: South Africa 0 Australia 7
Cup final: New Zealand 24 Samoa 12
By Gareth Duncan