The Springbok Sevens squad failed to progress to the quarterfinals of the HSBC France Sevens tournament in Toulouse when they were beaten 19-7 by Samoa in their final Pool D clash on Saturday.
This, together with defeat to Ireland on Friday, meant the South Africans only finished third in their pool and lost the opportunity to extend their lead on the overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series log.
They did recover to beat Japan 40-0 in the ninth-place quarterfinals and will face Scotland in the semifinals on Sunday.
The match will be broadcast on SuperSport at 12:12.
Luckily for the Blitzboks, their nearest contender on the log, Argentina, also suffered a defeat at the hands of Ireland in the Cup quarterfinals, so the South Americans are unlikely to overhaul SA’s lead at the top of the standings.
The tournament concludes on Sunday and both Argentina and Australia would have gained ground on the Blitzboks.
Springbok Sevens captain Siviwe Soyizwapi lamented their performance against Samoa and said the team only had themselves to blame.
“It is disappointing that we could not make the quarterfinals, but we just made too many errors against Samoa to put ourselves in a position to win,” he said.
“At least we bounced back well against Japan and will use that momentum for our match against Scotland.”
Soyizwapi pointed to the fact that they are still very much in contention to win the overall series: “This is a tough sport and if you make one mistake, you pay the price. “We — and other big-name teams like New Zealand — found that out today.
“At times, you need some luck or the bounce of the ball to go your way, but today it did not go our way. It is true though that we are not playing as well as we could and that is something the players need to fix. The coaching staff prepare us well for each match, but somehow we fail to execute properly.”
The Blitzboks also lost Mfundo Ndhlovu before the Samoa game with an ankle injury, and JC Pretorius during the match, and will finish the tournament with only 11 fit players.
Against Samoa, the South Africans failed to get out of the blocks.
The islanders scored twice from fluffed kickoff receives by the Blitzboks and, to make matters worse, in quick succession.
The two tries saw Samoa take a 14-0 lead, but their third five-pointer was a real killer blow. SA were on the attack, but lost the ball over the try line. Samoa won the scrum on their own line, kicked ahead and outpaced the Boks for a 19-0 lead.
The World Series leaders played better in the second half, but they could only manage a Ronald Brown try three minutes from time.
Against Japan, they looked like the Blitzboks of old, scoring six tries in a 40-0 romp, suddenly looking to have found their groove again.
Dalvon Blood, who scored his first try in the green and gold against Spain on Friday, was full of running and scored a hat-trick, two from delightful footwork and the third when he accelerated trough an outside gap.
SA 7 (0), Samoa 19 (19)
SA — Try: Ronald Brown. Conversion: Brown.
Samoa — Tries: Vaa Apelu Maliko, Steve Rimoni. Conversions: Melani Matavao (2).
SA 40 (19), Japan 0 (0)
SA — Tries: Dalvon Blood (3), James Murphy, Ronald Brown, Siviwe Soyizwapi. Conversions: Branco du Preez (2), Dewald Human (3).
Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.