South Africa’s U18 sevens team won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Isle of Man on Sunday evening.
There was a huge improvement in performance from Vuyo Zangqa’s boys on day two. Unfortunately, the injury count increased after the quarter-final and semi-final wins over Canada and Australia. After Sean Robinson left the field three minutes into the final against a fully fit England, South Africa only had two players in reserve. England capitalised on the situation and won 41-20 after leading 19-10 at half-time.
Tyler Fisher scored the first try of the match, but England hit back through three tries. Skipper Dries Swanepoel scored before the break to keep South Africa within reach. However, a tired South Africa couldn’t hold up as England scored four tries to two in the second half for the gold medal.
Earlier in the day, the semi-final against Australia was the most entertaining game of the tournament as the result was only decided in the final movement of the match. Australia’s Lewis Hamilton gave his team the perfect start as he dived over soon after the kickoff, but it was all South Africa for the rest of the first half as Justin Geduld, Fisher and Cheslin Kolbe scored tries for a 21-7 lead at the break.
Australia levelled the scores with two converted tries in quick succession after the restart. Both teams had opportunities to edge ahead during the second half but it was Burger Odendaal’s try in the last minute which sealed victory.
In the quarter-final – the first match of the day – South Africa beat Canada 24-12. They cruised in the first half as Andre Esterhuizen and Swanepoel (2) sput the team 19-0 ahead at half-time. In the second stanza, Canada put in a stronger effort as Lucas Hammond grabbed a brace, but they couldn’t catch up on the scoreboard. South Africa held on as Gunter scored their only try in the second half.
Dries Swanepoel (Free State, captain) , Tyler Fisher (KZN), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (WP), Carel Swart (KZN), Jan Serfontein (Free State), Juan-Janco Gunter (Bulls), Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Bulls), Cheslin Kolbe (WP), Adriaan Esterhuizen (Leopards), Sean Robinson (Bulls), Justin Geduld (WP), Burger Odendaal (Lions).
Vuyo Zangqa (head coach)
Allan Temple-Jones (conditioning coach)
Roelof Kotze (team manager)
By Gareth Duncan, in the Isle of Man