Blitzboks fail in Vegas

Carlin Isles of the US evades a tackle from Ryan Oosthuizen of South Africa as Johanannes Pretorius (L) gives chase during their Cup quarterfinal on day two of the USA Sevens Rugby tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 2, 2019. The US defeated South Africa 29-10.
Carlin Isles of the US evades a tackle from Ryan Oosthuizen of South Africa as Johanannes Pretorius (L) gives chase during their Cup quarterfinal on day two of the USA Sevens Rugby tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 2, 2019. The US defeated South Africa 29-10.
Image: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

The Blitzboks’ last chance of staying in the title race of the 2018/19 HSBC Sevens World Series race ended with a heavy quarterfinal defeat in Las Vegas on Sunday.

South Africa suffered a heavy 29-10 loss against the USA in the quarterfinals of the Las Vegas Sevens in the early hours of Sunday morning.

It was the third time in five tournaments this season that South Africa failed to make the last four.

The semi-finals and finals take place on Monday morning (SA time)‚ with the Blitzboks left fighting for the minor places.

Before the Las Vegas event the Blitzboks were already 19 points behind New Zealand and the USA on the standings.

With the campaign reaching the halfway point after this event‚ SA will be more than 20 points adrift with no way back into the title race.

There had already been a concession before Las Vegas that the realistic target was consolidating a place in the top four on the log.

The leading four teams this season gain automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

New Zealand and the USA‚ who meet in the first semi‚ will stretch their advantage at the top‚ while third place Fiji lost some ground after failing to reach the semi-finals in Las Vegas.

The Blitzboks‚ who started the second day with a 29-12 win over England in their final group match to win Pool C‚ seemed to have found the rhythm they lacked on day one when they were held to a shock 5-5 draw by Chile.

But against the USA‚ the Blitzboks had no answer for a fired up home team and crowd.

Danny Barrett set the USA's tone by taking on four South African defenders and managing to power over the line.

Stephen Tomasin and Martin Iosefo then showed their pace out wide to help put the home side 19-0 up at halftime.

After the break‚ the Eagles didn't let their foot off the gas. Carlin Isles struck off the back of a ruck before Matai Leuta plucked a restart effortlessly out of the air to add their fifth try.

Two late scores from Stedman Gans and JC Pretorius ensured that the Blitzboks didn't finish the quarterfinal without a point but the contest belonged to the hosts.

They made history in style with their first ever win over South Africa on home soil.

Things don’t get easier for the Blitzboks‚ as they now have a date with Fiji in the battle for minor places.

Samoa qualified for their first semi-finals since 2016 and meet Argentina in the other Cup knockout on day three.

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