Blitzboks lucky to be in Cup play-offs

GARETH DUNCAN reports on the Springbok Sevens’ inconsistent performances on day one at the Wellington Sevens.

The Blitzboks will have to thank Canada for their place in the Cup section. After their 31-5 win over the latter, they suffered a 14-12 loss to France in their second group match. All France had to do to confirm their Cup spot ahead of South Africa was to beat the lowly North Americans.

A French victory was expected against Canada, who also lost 38-0 against Fiji. However, Canada upset France with an 19-14 win, handing the Blitzboks a Cup play-off lifeline. South Africa followed with a draw against Fiji, confirming second place behind the Pacific Islanders in Pool D. But it was a match South Africa should have won.

Fiji were far the better team in the first stanza and rightfully took the lead after speedster Seremaia Burotu ran in the corner for the first try of the game. In reply, the Blitzboks couldn’t build any momentum on attack because of poor passing and handling while their defence was easily penetrated. South Africa were lucky to be trailing 7-0 at the break.

In the second half, the Blitzboks produced an improved performance. They camped inside Fiji’s red zone for most parts of the half but could only score one try through Branco du Preez to level matters.

Bernado Botha had the opportunity to dive over for the match-winning try, but he lost the ball forward over the line. South Africa were then awarded an injury-time penalty in a kickable position to clinch the match, but they went for the try and failed.

The Blitzboks will now face Australia in the Cup quarter-final on day two. In the other Cup play-offs, England face Argentina, Fiji play Samoa and New Zealand take on Wales.

Blitzboks results (Day 1):
South Africa 31 Canada 5
South Africa 12 France 14
South Africa 7 Fiji 7

Blitzbok fixtures (Day 2):
South Africa vs Australia (04:17 k/o)

For all fixtures and results, click here

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