The Springbok Sevens finished fourth at the Sydney Sevens tournament following their 26-12 defeat in the play-off for third place against Fiji on Sunday morning (SA time). The South Africans are one of three countries tied with 69 points on top of the standings after four rounds of World Rugby Sevens Series action. Fiji have the best point average of the trio, and are therefore first on the log, followed by South Arica and Sydney winners New Zealand. The Kiwis defeated hosts Australia 27-24 in the Cup final.
The Fijians led 21-0 at half-time but the Springbok Sevens hit back with tries by Dylan Sage and Sandile Ngcobo to cut the deficit to 21-12 with less than two minutes to play. Rosko Speckman was then yellow carded and then Fiji added a fourth try to clinch the game. South Africa had Kwagga Smith suspended for the playoff match after he was cited for a high tackle in the semi-final defeat against Australia.
They also lost stand-in skipper Philip Snyman, who was injured in the first group match on Saturday against Scotland. The Blitzbokke bowed out of the Cup with a 12-7 defeat against the hosts in the second semi-final. Lewis Holland and James Stannard were the Aussie scorers as they led 12-0 at half-time. Smith scored a long range try for the Springbok Sevens and he was then yellow carded for a high tackle towards the end of the match.
Afterwards Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said basic errors cost them the game against Australia: ‘We must learn that those kind of basic errors will always hurt you in knockout matches.’ Injuries to several key players meant Powell was forced to field several newcomers and a couple of inexperienced players in Sydney and Wellington. Powell says: ‘We were down to ten men with Philip out injured and Kwagga suspended. So I had to play the newcomers against Fiji, and they learnt a lot from playing such a quality side.’
Earlier on Sunday, the Springbok Sevens won through to the last four with a comprehensive 26-0 win over Argentina in the quarter-finals. Cheslin Kolbe scored twice to hand his team a 12-0 halftime lead. Leading World Series try scorer Seabelo Senatla and Smith also scored a try apiece after the break.
Senatla continued with his impressive scoring form and he added seven tries to his tally in Sydney, while Kolbe scored five times. Senatla was the top try grabber last season and he now leads the list with 25 tries after four rounds, three more than his closest rival.
Photo credit: Martin Seras Lima