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Blitzbokke ran out of puff

Sun, 13 Oct 2013 12:34
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They showed a lot of courage and commitment
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The Springbok Sevens suffered an energy-sapping semifinal loss against hosts Australia and then ran out of steam against England in the third place playoff on the Gold Coast.

Neil Powell, in his first tournament in charge as coach, saw his team suffer a thrilling 24-19 loss in two periods of extra-time to Australia in their bid to reach the final.

This exhausting match plus the earlier loss of inspirational captain, Kyle Brown, who suffered concussion against Wales, proved too much for South Africa to cope with in their playoff against England, who won 47-0.

Overall, it was an encouraging performance by the team who managed pool victories over France, Spain and England plus a pulsating quarterfinal win over Wales.

New Zealand won Round One of the Sevens World Series after outplaying Australia 40-19 in the Cup final.

Round Two of the World Series, the Dubai Sevens, will take place on 29-30 November.

Earlier on Sunday at Skilled Park, the Springbok Sevens were drawn in Pool D and will face Samoa, Argentina and Russia next month in Dubai.

Powell said afterwards he was pleased with the character and commitment of his team.

“The guys all showed a willingness to implement the minor tweaks we spoke about before each game. I also think they showed a lot of courage and commitment, especially against Wales and Australia.”

The coach said the team especially missed the presence of skipper Brown against England in their last match.

“Kyle was missed because he is important at our kick-off plays. That is an area where England really hurt us. We now have the time to regroup and to prepare for Dubai,” he said.

A Tired South African outfit struggled with the pace of England and were chasing the game from the first score.

James Rodwell, Phil Burgess and Dan Bibby all scored converted tries before the break to give England a comfortable 21-0 lead.

England piled on the pressure after the break and a tired-looking SA defence could not prevent Rodwell, Bibby, Burgess and Mike Ellery to score four more tries to clinch a 47-0 victory.

In their energy-sapping semi-final, South Africa had the misfortune of two players sin-binned towards the end, but despite this disadvantage the Springbok Sevens showed great courage and composure to keep a rampant home-side at bay with some heroic defense.

Shannon Walker and Con Foley quickly gave the Aussies a 14-0 lead before Ulengo swept up his chip kick to bring South Africa back within a converted score.  Captain Ed Jenkins extended the tournament hosts’ lead, but only for Jamba Ulengo to again reduce the deficit.

Stephen Dippenaar then turned on the speed when he bolted 70 meters to level the scores and South Africa missed the chance to grab the lead for the first time when Geduld missed the conversion.

With first Geduld and then Sampie Mastriet (in extra-time) yellow-carded, Australia still struggled to penetrate the South African defence. They missed with a penalty drop kick to seal the match, but Jesse Parahi finally brought an epic encounter to close when he touched down in the corner for the decisive score.

In their quarterfinal match against Wales, Stephen Hunt scored the winning try just 30 seconds before the end after the Welsh had fought their way back to level scores at 21-all. Skipper Brown left the field after suffering concussion.

The in-form Cornal Hendricks got South Africa to a perfect start when he scores twice to put the Springbok Sevens 14-0 ahead in this epic quarterfinal clash. However, Wales, who beat South Africa in the final of the Middelburg Sevens a few weeks ago, refused to give up.

Lee Williams and then Rhys Jones scored tries as Wales came charging back, but Hendricks was again on hand to send a surging Ulengo away for his try which allowed South Africa to stay in front.

Chris Knight leveled the scores once more, but just as it seems that the match was destined for extra-time, Cecil Afrika sent Hunt away who sliced the defence with a perfect running line to score the winning try.

The draw for the Dubai Sevens on 29-30 November:

Group A: New Zealand, Kenya, France, Portugal
Group B: Australia, Wales, Scotland, Spain
Group C: England, Fiji, Canada, United States
Group D: South Africa, Samoa, Argentina, Russia

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