The Springbok Sevens disappointed with a 19-7 defeat against New Zealand in the final match of day one in the Wellington tournament.
Although both sides had already confirmed Cup quarterfinal qualification, South Africa and New Zealand faced each other in a crucial Pool A game. The winners would move on to an easier fixture against Australia, while the losers would meet an in form Fijian outfit.
Considering the Boks lost against Fiji in the last two Cup quarterfinals, it was important for Paul Treu’s charges to top Pool A.
However – not for the first time – the Blitzboks failed to perform when it mattered most as they went down to hosts New Zealand as they conceded two late tries.
South Africa had the upper hand for most of the first stanza, as they kept the Kiwis restricted in their half. However, poor defence from stalwart Mzwandile Stick allowed Sherwin Stowers to slip past for the opening try.
On the half-time mark, a late attack from the Blitzboks saw Ryno Benjamin through and Stick added the conversion to level the scores.
After the break, South Africa stole the early momentum again, but lacked the composure in attack to take the lead.
This cost the World Series champions as New Zealand went ahead two minutes from time through Zar Lawrence.
The result was confirmed when Chris Baker crossed the chalk in the final minute.
Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks impressed with two convincing wins against Wales and Niue.
In their second fixture of the day, Cecil Afrika’s hat-trick helped the Boks down Wales 38-5 to confirm a place in the Cup quarterfinals.
Afrika crossed the whitewash twice and Marius Schoeman scored a try as the Boks surged into a 19-0 half-time lead.
Afrika then completed his hat-trick after the break, while Ryno Benjamin and Hoffman Maritz crossed the line to seal the win. Wales only managed one consolation try through Ifan Evans.
In the Boks’ first match, Western Province speedster Steven Hunt grabbed a brace as they secured a 38-10 against Niue.
South Africa dominated the first half as they scored five tries to take a 31-0 lead at half-time.
Niue, however, produced a better overall performance in the second stanza as the Boks only managed to score one try.
Springboks Sevens results, Day 1:
South Africa 38 Niue 10
South Africa 38 Wales 5
New Zealand 19 South Africa 7
By Gareth Duncan