Blitzboks Stumble Into Cup Finals In Los Angeles


The Springbok Sevens will face Fiji in the Cup quarterfinals of the HSBC LA Sevens later on Sunday after an eventful first day of sevens at Dignity Health Stadium in Los Angeles.

Torrid weather conditions forced numerous postponements to matches, with the Blitzboks seeing their second match of the day, against Uruguay, moved twice as lightning in the area prevented play.

On top of that, a lethargic display by the Blitzboks saw them lose two of their pool matches.

A hard-fought opening win against Canada (12-5) started the day on a positive note, but there was not much to smile about for the remainder of the day, with defeats against both Uruguay and Ireland.

Other results in the pool resulted in South Africa, Canada and Uruguay on the same number of log points at the end of play, but their better points difference saw the Blitzboks progress.

For Springbok Sevens assistant coach, Philip Snyman, there was little to celebrate.

He said it was a disappointing day, but they do have the opportunity to bounce back on Day Two.

“The conditions apart, we did not play well. We did fairly well in our game against Canada, but against Uruguay we were really poor at the breakdown and protecting our ball. We were too slow to the breakdown and gave possession away unnecessarily.”

The performance against Ireland was also below their standards.

“Against Ireland, we had numerous opportunities to put them under pressure and get points, but we did not used them. We kicked possession away with players in good positions and at other times just needed to play the overlap, but did not do so. “

They will have to better against Fiji in the knock-out match, he said.

“We are in the top eight yes, but we cannot expect other results going our way and then be happy about it. We want to have our fate in our own hands. We have that now, so will go back, recover and come back stronger tomorrow.”

The opener against Canada was a close affair. Play went from one side of the field to the another as both teams managed good attacking opportunities, but defence on both sides held firm.

The Blitzboks took the lead just before the break when Christie Grobbelaar scored, following a good break by Ricardo Duarttee near his own line. That gave South Africa a 5-0 lead at the break.

Ricardo Duarttee on the run against Canada.
Ricardo Duarttee on the run against Canada.

The second half was more of the same, but Duarttee put the matter to rest with a well-taken try from a quick-tap penalty.

The Blitzboks were shocked by a first ever HSBC World Series defeat to Uruguay with the South Americans scoring the decisive points less than 20 seconds from time.

Ronald Brown scored the opening points in the first half, easing his side into a 5-0 lead in a match that was twice moved forward due to the weather. That was also the halftime score.

Uruguay struck in the second. First Mateo Vinals kicked ahead from his own halfway line and in a desperate race to the line managed to slide over despite a despairing cover defence tackle by Travis Ismaiel, who earlier in the day made his Blitzboks debut.

The Uruguayans were not done however and in the final play of the game, managed to outwork the SA defence, with Bautista Basso dropping over the lone untouched.

One try was also the difference in the 14-5 defeat to Ireland. The Blitzboks conceded a try each side of the half and could only respond with a Shilton van Wyk five pointer just before the half time break.

The second half, played on a slippery surface, was a hard-fought affair. South Africa lost the ball over the line near the end and with that, their last chance to bring the game back to life disappeared.

Cup quarters (SA times):
20h23 Samoa v Argentina
20h45 South Africa v Fiji
21h07 Great Britain v New Zealand
21h29 Ireland v Australia