The Springbok Sevens team on Sunday won the Plate Final of the HSBC Paris Sevens and stayed second on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series log with one tournament to go.
South Africa scored a 17-7 win over Australia in the Plate Final after an earlier 29-19 win over New Zealand in the semifinal.
A 21-10 defeat to eventual winners, Samoa, in the Cup quarterfinals first up in the Stade Jean Bouin tripped up the Blitzboks for an eight consecutive semifinal berth though. Samoa went on to beat Fiji 29-26 in the final.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell was pleased with the way his team fought back after being knocked out of the Cup competition by Samoa.“We did well against New Zealand and Australia. This was not what we came for, but I cannot fault the guys on their effort in the last two matches.”
Powell applauded Samoa’s effort early in the day.
“We did not play well and they showed more urgency and composure than us and deserved the win. It was disappointing, but I am pleased in the way we regrouped.”
South Africa picked up two injuries during the tournament, the first to be played in the French capital in ten years.
Ruhan Nel injured his shoulder against New Zealand and Kwagga Smith was ruled out on Friday already after picking up an ankle injury against England in the opening pool match. Replacements will be named shortly.
Fiji (166 points) extended their lead over South Africa (152 points), who still have a chance to overhaul them in London next weekend.
“We are still in it, but to be honest, I can’t see Fiji slipping up that badly next week in London. We will of course still try and win both the tournament and hopefully the series,” Powell said.
“It will also be important to make sure that we at least finish second as it will help for a better draw come the Olympic Games.”
•Against Australia, Kyle Brown, Dylan Sage and Rosko Specman scored tries, with Cecil Afrika converting one of those. South Africa scored first, but Australia struck back immediately to take the lead with a converted try. Two more tries by the Blitzboks in the second half secured the Plate for South Africa.
Earlier, the Springbok Sevens team scored a convincing 29-19 win over New Zealand in their Plate semifinal match. Trailing 12-0 at one stage, great play from kick-offs resulted in three tries in quick succession and 24-12 lead. New Zealand responded late, but a final try at the buzzer by Dylan Sage secured the win.
New Zealand had the upper hand early on and scored twice in the opening five minutes. Seabelo Senatla’s first try of the day, brilliantly converted by Cecil Afrika, closed the gap to 12-7 at the break.
The second half saw a dream start for South Africa. They scored three tries in the opening three minutes to force New Zealand on the back foot and when Senatla scored his second for a 24-12 lead, the win was almost secured. But the men in black came back with a long range effort before Sage calmed the nerves.
Try scorers for South Africa were Seabelo Senatla (2), Cecil Afrika, Rosko Specman and Dylan Sage. Cecil Africa kicked two conversions.
The early defeat against Samoa meant that South Africa missed out on a place in the top four for the first time since the opening tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai in December.
Two quick tries after the restart by Samoa edged them into a winning position. The Samoans led 7-5 at the break.
South Africa started strongly and Ruhan Nel scored in the opening minutes to give them a 5-0 lead. Some handling errors and lapses of concentration on defense allowed the Samoans to score just before and immediately after the break. A late Cecil Afrika try was small reward for the way the Blitzboks fought back from being 5-21 down.
Series log: The top five teams after nine tournaments are:
1. Fiji 166
2. South Africa 152
3. New Zealand 145
4. Australia 127
5. Argentina 107.
•South Africa are drawn in Pool A for next weekend’s HSBC London Sevens, alongside Samoa, USA and Canada.
The rest of the pools are:
Pool B: Fiji, Australia, England, Wales
Pool C: France, Kenya, Scotland, Portugal
Pool D: Argentina, New Zealand, Russia, Brazil