The Blitzboks are through to the quarterfinals of the World Rugby’s sevens tournament in Los Angeles but were some way off their best.
Yes, they did top their Pool C and were unbeaten, but it was not without a scare before they only drew level with Ireland in the last move of their third match in a somewhat bizarre ending to their match against Ireland.
The newcomers to this season’s core team were leading 19-7 with less than two minutes left to play, but then conceded a try to Kurt-Lee Arendse which wasn’t converted.
It seemed all over for the Blitzboks, now trailing 12-19. They attacked, were (again!) penalised at a ruck and Ireland were awarded a penalty.
They opted for a scrum to run the clock down and then kicked the ball out well towards their own line and near the corner flag.
The Irish were under impression that the final hooter had sounded, but it hadn’t! The result was a lineout just a few metres out from their line with a Blitzboks throw to come and which they won. South Africa’s captain Stedman Gans ran straight and hard to score under the posts with the conversion by Selvyn Davids bringing a draw.
That was enough to keep South Africa at the top of their pool after Ireland had lost 7-29 to Kenya in their second pool match.
♦ Earlier the Blitzboks convincingly beat Kenya 31-5 and accounted for Canada 33-5, but they were not at their best.
Too many penalties against them, poor control at the breakdowns where they were outplayed, a few lost lineouts, a yellow card to Werner Kok in each of the first two matches of his 50th tournament and a few missed tackles were glaring shortcomings.
The Blitzboks now play the United Stated in the quarterfinal. The home team, aiming for a hattrick of wins on home soil, were beaten 17-7 by Australia in the final pool match.
The quarterfinalists on Saturday are (First named teams are pool winners) –
19:43 Fiji vs England
20:05 Australia vs Ireland
20:27 New Zealand vs France
20:49 South Africa vs United States