Tomasi Cama kicked an injury-time penalty goal to secure New Zealand a 22-19 victory over England in the cup final while the Blitzboks claimed the plate prize at the George Sevens.
It was a thrilling finish to a highly-entertaining cup final. England and a six-man New Zealand side were deadlocked at 19-19 in the closing stages until the latter were awarded a penalty in a kickable position. Cama, who impressed with the boot throughout the tournament, stepped up and slotted the kick from the 22m line to claim the win.
England only have themselves to be blame as they were 14-5 up at half-time. Ben Gollings and James Rodwell crossed the chalk for the Dubai winners while Declan O’Donnell opened the scoring for New Zealand.
Then came the Kiwi comeback. DJ Forbes finished off a counter attack from New Zealand’s red zone before setting up Tim Mickleson in the corner for a 19-14 lead. Former Bishops and UCT student Matt Turner then came on as a super sub to score a great inidividual try to level the scores. New Zealand were dealt a further blow as Bryce Heem was sent off for punching. However, four minutes after the final hooter, Cama’s boot clinched victory and New Zealand’s fifth tournament win in George.
The Springbok Sevens had to settle for the plate title as they beat Argentina 10-5 in the final after a poor run on day two.
The Blitzboks lacked direction on attack without their talisman Cecil Afrika, who had to withdraw from the final clash because of injury. They had several opportunities early in the first half but poor decision-making denied them the lead. After the fifth visit to Argentina’s red zone, Bernado Botha eventually dived in at the corner as he gathered Branco du Preez’s chip ahead for a 5-0 lead at the break.
Argentina levelled the scores as Diego Palma exposed the Blitzboks’ defence out wide, but Franki Horn sealed the win for South Africa after finishing off a set piece move in the dying moments.
The win gave some joy for the home fans, who had to witness a poor day two for the Blitzboks in what should be the final sevens tournament hosted in George (Cape Town and PE are tipped to be the next hosts of the South African leg next season as George’s contract rights expire next year). However, head coach Paul Treu and his team shouldn’t celebrate this victory as it is just a consolation prize. All it confirms is fifth place. South Africa have a lot of work to do ahead of the next tournament, the Wellington Sevens in New Zealand, on 4 and 5 February if they want to improve.
Earlier in the day in the plate semi-final, Cecil Afrika scored a last-minute try to help the Springbok Sevens to a 24-21 win over Wales.
When Aaron Shingler crossed the chalk to put Wales 21-17 ahead with 30 seconds left in the match, it seemed that the Blitzboks would suffer their worst ever finish at a tournament on home soil. However, from the final kickoff, South Africa never gave up and an impressive team effort saw Afrika score in the corner to steal the win from the defending Sevens World Cup champions.
Afrika opened the scoring for the host team before Wales went ahead through a converted try. The Blitzboks had a 10-7 lead at break as Afrika grabbed a brace for the final move of the first half.
Wales were the better team in the second half as they had the upper hand at the tackle points and enjoyed most of the possession. This eventually saw Richard Pugh dive under the posts to put Wales ahead. The Blitzboks hit back through Kyle Brown but conceded a late try which almost cost them the game. However, Afrika completed his hat-trick and converted the final try for the win.
In their first match on day two, the Springbok Sevens were knocked out of the cup section after a 19-10 defeat against England.
The Blitzboks started the quarter-final clash well and led 10-5 at half-time, but a poor second half display saw them fail to score a point after the break as England rallied to victory through two late tries. Head coach Paul Treu will lament his player’s poor defence towards the end of the match as slipped tackles cost them the game while they became static with ball in hand and failed to convert their scoring opportunities.
This wasn’t the case in the first stanza as the Blitzboks delivered an impressive all-round performance. Cecil Afrika opened the scoring after sniping a gap out wide. England capitalised on South Africa’s only mistake in the first half, failing to retain possession at the tackle point on halfway, to see John Brake run clear down the touchline to level the scores.
From the resulting restart, Afrika almost fumbled the ball deep in his red zone but gathered possession and broke into England’s territory with 50m run. The Blitzboks spread play wide and Bernado Botha finished off a good piece of attacking play.
However, it was all England after the break. Speedster Dan Norton should’ve scored early but knocked on the ball with a clear path to the try line ahead of him. It didn’t matter though as Isoa Damu dotted down and Brake completed his brace in the last two minutes of the match to seal victory.
Cup quarter-final – SA 10 England 19
Plate semi-final – SA 24 Wales 21
Plate final – SA 10 Argentina 5