Brilliant Baby Blitzboks keep SA on top
The Blitzboks have had many highs over the past 20 years but few can match what the squad of inexperienced rookies achieved in Hong Kong on Sunday.
The squad that was made almost exclusively of Academy players‚ and could be dubbed the Baby Blitzboks‚ claimed the bronze medal by thrashing New Zealand 29-7.
Their efforts retained SA’s standing at the top of the HSBC World Series log after seven rounds. The Blitzboks earned 17 log points to stay three points clear of Fiji at the top of the standings on 126 points.
Fiji have 123 points and NZ are a distant third with 107 points three rounds remaining. The callow SA group‚ which included five debutants‚ topped pool C with wins over South Korean (45-0)‚ Scotland (31-17) and England (33-15) before thumping Spain 38-5 in the last eight.
Muller du Plessis scored a hattrick in that match. In the semi-final against a full strength Fiji‚ the Blitzboks‚ and make no mistake these young men are worthy of being called Blitzboks‚ took the Olympic champions to the wire.
The irrepressible Selvyn Davids‚ danced and jigged his way to three tries in the first half to give the underdogs a 19-5 lead at the break. Of course Fiji responded as they scored three tries to lead 26-19 with less than 90 seconds on the clock.
But the SA youngsters‚ despite being outmuscled against their physically larger opponents‚ never took a backwards step and kept pressing their more illustrious counterparts into mistakes.
With time running out‚ the baby-faced Du Plessis carved his way through a pack of giant Pacific Islanders to put his side within two points of the lead with 47 seconds to play. But Selvyn Davids made his only mistake of the match‚ pushing the conversion wide giving Fiji a crucial two-point lead‚ which they clung on to until the end.
Despite Fiji being local favourites and Hong Kong royalty with 17 previous wins in the city-state‚ the crowd gave the Blitzboks a rousing send off. Everyone knew it was David against Goliath and the giant only just triumphed on this occasion. Fiji went on to win the final with a 24-12 win over Kenya and collected 22 log points.
Two yellow cards in the first half for Kenya's Collins Injera and Willy Ambaka allowed the Pacific islanders to take a 17-0 lead at halftime. Despite tries from Kenya's Billy Odhiambo and Oscar Ouma in the second half‚ Fiji were uncatchable and cemented their reputation in Hong Kong as the team to beat. "I'd like to thank my boys for the team effort and thank the Kenyan team for a good game‚" said Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai.
"Hong Kong is always special for us‚ we respect and honour the tradition that Fiji has with the Hong Kong Sevens." It was also their fourth consecutive Hong Kong triumph and their third title this season after winning in Hamilton and Vancouver previously.