Turner sinks Blitzbokke
South African-born Matt Turner broke the Blitzbokke’s hearts as he scored an injury time try to give England a 19-17 victory in the Plate semifinals of the London Sevens on Sunday.
Turner, who is a favourite to claim the IRB’s Sevens Player of the year award and heads the HSBC World Series try-scoring standings at the end of the London tournament, was at the end of a move which started on the England tryline and eventually found space to run 50 metres and score.
It was a heartbreaking end for the Blitzbokke, who played well enough for the victory and had to endure losing to England for the second time in as many weeks, ensuring the English will finish above them for the third place in the World Series standings.
The final two tournaments of the IRB Series will go down as one that coach Paul Treu will want to forget, as losing in the Plate semifinals in both competitions are hardly the high standards he sets the teams. But some telling injuries to key players, as well as the inability of their replacements to take the step up to this level of competition, must be a worrying factor.
To lose 47-0 to Samoa in Scotland before today’s earlier 36-0 whitewash at the hands of new World Champs New Zealand is hardly the sort of result that the Blitzbokke have become known for and while injuries are truly a factor, some hard questions will need to be asked of the current player corps before the new season rolls around.
However, in London the Blitzbokke did have a decent day one, sweeping aside Portugal and Scotland before going down 19-17 to Australia in the final move of the day.
Sunday, however, with the 36-0 loss to New Zealand and now the loss to England, was less likely to be remembered as a success.
Turner’s try aside, the Blitzbokke have struggled all year to match New Zealand and Fiji, the top two sides in the competition and have now moved a place down on their finish in 2011.
They will return home wounded and battered, disappointed at their own results and knowing their performance, in the greater scope of things, was simply not good enough.
It will require some soul-searching in the months ahead if they are to make up the ground on New Zealand and Fiji.