Improved Blitzboks fall just short of fourth place in Hong Kong

Ricardo Duarttee was min form for the Blitzboks in Hong Kong. File photo
Ricardo Duarttee was min form for the Blitzboks in Hong Kong. File photo
Image: David Van Der Sandt/Gallo Images

The Springbok Sevens team fell just short of claiming fifth place at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday when they were edged by Argentina in wet and windy conditions.

This came at the end of a weekend where the South Africans made a big step up forward again after the disappointment of the North American leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series a month ago.

Argentina defeated the Blitzboks 7-5 in a fifth-place playoff full of suspense to the end. There were no score at half time, with the rain making handling difficult for the players.

Earlier on Sunday the Blitzboks were beaten 10-7 by Fiji in the Cup quarterfinals before they smashed the USA by 38-7 to book their place in the playoff against Los Pumas.

The first half against Argentina was a real arm wrestle, with neither side able to put points on the board. The Blitzboks tested Argentinian defence with long, driving kicks upfield, but the South Americans held firm.

Argentina, in turn, tested the South Africans with several onslaughts, but the Blitzboks showed steel in defence to keep their opponents away from their line.

The game finally came alight right at the end with both sides going over. Jacquin Pellandini breached the South African line after the Argentineans managed to hit several gaps in the danger zone. He converted his own try to hand his team a 7-0 lead with less than two minutes left.

However, Ricardo Duarttee then delighted the fans when he produced a brilliant sidestep to score in the corner. The conversion was wide and in soccer style Argentina headed the ball into touch from the restart to claim the 7-5 win.

In the first game on Sunday, Fiji just managed to beat the Blitzboks in a tense cup quarterfinal. Playing without the experienced Zain Davids due to a broken hand, South Africa came close and left the field with their heads held high as they could have won the game having led 7-5 at the break, but Fiji held on for a close win.

Shaun Williams broke the deadlock in the fourth minute after some good attacking play, with Duarttee making it 7-0 to South Africa with the conversion.

Fiji hit back through a long-distance try by Iowane Teba after a defensive lapse by the Blitzboks, but the conversion sailed wide and the South Africans led by two points after a tight first half.

The second half delivered more of the same until Napolioni Bolaca scored Fiji's second after they found some space on the right.

The Blitzboks threw everything they had into the final minutes and were hot on the attack in the Fijian 22 when the referee ruled obstruction, after which the experienced islanders simply ran the clock down to book their spot in the semis.

In the fifth-place semifinal against the US, the three new players in the SA squad — Ethan James, Donovan Don and Sebastiaan Jobb — got their names on the score sheet late to cap a memorable win.

James scored from a brilliant kick into space by Duarttee; Don ran 80m after scooping up a loose ball on the South African 22; and Jobb went over after the hooter. All three were converted to make it a big win for the Blitzboks.


Springbok Sevens 7 (7) — Try: Shaun Williams. Conversion: Ricardo Duarttee. 

Fiji 10 (5) — Tries: Iowane Teba, Napolioni Bolaca.


Springbok Sevens 38 (12) — Tries: Christie Grobbelaar (2), Tiaan Pretorius, Ethan James, Donovan Don, Sebastiaan Jobb. Conversions: Ricardo Duarttee (4).

US 7 (7) — Try: Lucas Lacamp. Conversion: Steve Tomasin.


Springbok Sevens 5 (0) — Try: Ricardo Duarttee.

Argentina 7 (0) — Try: Joaquin Pellandini. Conversion: Pellandini.