Blitzboks scrape through in Dubai

The Springbok Sevens have advanced to the Cup play-offs on points difference at the Dubai Sevens, despite losing 19-14 against Australia in their final pool match .

Nothing seems to have improved since the Blitzboks’ poor 2009-2010 campaign, which saw them finish sixth with only 80 points. The Blitzboks finished day one at the opening tournament poorly as they suffered a 19-14 defeat against Australia after their 19-10 win against Russia and a lucky 19-19 draw against Scotland. The good news is they still finish second in Pool C ahead of Scotland with a better points difference of four compared to the latter’s negative 11.

However, judging their last performance, Paul Treu’s charges will need to make a major step up on day two as they will face Fiji in their Cup quarter-final tie – a side they failed to beat in the Cup play-offs last season.

In their defeat against Australia, they scored the opening try as star player of the day, Cecil Afrika dotted down in the second minute. But from there, the Australians gained the ascendancy as they put together a 19-point blitz to seal the match. South Africa added some respectability to the score with a late try through Afrika, who grabbed his fourth try of the day.

Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks were saved by Andrew Skeen’s missed conversion in injury time as they hung on for a draw. Disappointing for the South Africa as they had a strong start to the match. Skipper Kyle Brown grabbed an early brace before Fraser Harkness touched down late for the Scots. The Blitzboks led 12-7 at half-time.

Afrika gave South Africa a 14-point advantage moments after the restart as he finished a good piece of attacking play. But then the Blitzboks crumbled.

The Scots managed to expose the South Africa’s defence with two chip aheads, which saw Dougie Fife break away to make it a seven-point game. Then in the dying seconds, Scotland scored a late try despite a courageous defensive display from the Blitzboks. Skeen’s conversion attempt hit the post, which would’ve secured victory for Scotland.

In their first Pool C match against Russia, South Africa won 19-10. Again, Afrika was the star for the Blitzboks as he scored seven points and set up Bernado Botha’s try for the win. Skipper Kyle Brown also crossed the chalk while veteran Renfred Dazel produced an impressive performance.

After the opening try thanks to some individual brilliance from Afrika, the South Africans struggled against Russia for the rest of the first half. They failed to build much momentum on attack while their defence was poor. Russia hit back through Nikolay Goroshilov to see the half-time score read 7-5.

The Blitzboks moved up a gear after the break and two tries through Botha and Brown in quick succession put the South Africans in a comfort zone. Russia scored a late try, but it only added respectability to the score.

In other results, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji topped their groups while Wales, USA, and England finished second to qualify for the Cup play-offs.

Blitzboks’ results:
South Africa 19 Russia 10
South Africa 19 Scotland 19
South Africa 14 Australia 19

For all fixtures and results click here