Blitzbokke claim third place
The Springbok Sevens put the disappointment of a semifinal loss to eventual champions Fiji behind them to power to a 41-7 win over Kenya to claim third place at the Gold Coast Sevens.
The Blitzbokke put together a performance to make a statement as Cornal Hendricks added three tries and Paul Delport a brace to see their dominance over the Kenyans continue.
But it was not the finish they wanted after they went down 21-10 against Fiji in the semis, and then had to watch as the Fijians destroyed New Zealand 32-14 in the final to claim back-to-back victories at this tournament.
Paul Treu’s side did show more promise and composure than the entire 2010/11 season and if they can build on this will definitely be in with a chance in future tournaments. Considering the team’s final placing, they scored 28 tries, the most in the tournament, with Hendricks ending up joint top try scorer.
But the real heartbreak was in the semifinals. That victory extended Fiji’s winning run against the Boks to five straight victories, although it must be said that poor officiating and some regulation mistakes cost the Blitzbokke what could have been a great victory.
Referee Federico Anselmi had a game he would rather forget, as he had little control and allowed the Fijians to play on the wrong side of rucks and off their feet for virtually the entire game. However, nothing can be as bad as his
first-half blunder, where players all stopped when the ball was knocked on by a Fijian player, only to watch Ulaiyasi Lawavou Tavucuilagi pick the ball up in front of his own player -- hence an offside position -- and score to the dismay of the Blitzbokke.
That Anselmi didn’t see the error or react to complaints shows just how poor the standard of refereeing at Sevens level is, and former Refs boss Paddy O’Brien has his work cut out for him at this level.
But that mistake did not cost the Blitzbokke the game, only rather hampered them in their quest to defeat their Sevens nemesis.
Cecil Afrika quickly righted the wrong when he went over to level the scores, and the Blitzbokke should have had another when Cornal Hendricks lost the ball as he was stretching over the line. That mistake became a seven-point swing, as Joji Baleviani Raqamate picked up the ball, kicked upfield and won the race to score and put Fiji 14-7 up.
The game almost became a farce when the touch judge and Anselmi wanted to card a player for a trip, but the No 4 that the touch judge gave the ref wasn’t even on the field.
The Blitzbokke butchered two opportunities and then opted strangely for a drop goal to take the score to 14-10 when they had a number advantage after Fiji had a player yellow carded for repeated infringements.
But as the clock wound down, a desperate attack backfired and Fiji found a gap for Raqamate to seal the game, and break South African hearts.
Earlier the Blitzbokke produced a solid performance to down France 26-14 and qualify for the semis.