Blitzboks fail to deliver golden sunset for Team SA

15 April 2018 - 11:29 By David Isaacson
Justin Geduld of South Africa (L) is tackled by Fiji's Amenoni Nasilasila in the men's rugby sevens semi-final match at the Robina Stadium during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on April 15, 2018.
Justin Geduld of South Africa (L) is tackled by Fiji's Amenoni Nasilasila in the men's rugby sevens semi-final match at the Robina Stadium during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast on April 15, 2018.
Image: WILLIAM WEST / AFP

The golden sunset the Blitzboks were supposed to give Team South Africa on the final day of the Commonwealth Games on Sunday first turned bronze and then it went black. All Black.

The defending champions from Glasgow 2014 travelled to the Robina stadium in Gold Coast with SA clinging to fifth spot on the medals table with 13 gold medals‚ one more than New Zealand‚ who had more silvers and bronze.

The SA sevens team had to take the men’s gold and then hope the New Zealanders win no more than one gold from the women’s sevens and the women’s doubles squash.

But the Blitzboks‚ who top the World Series rankings‚ didn’t even get close‚ faltering in the semifinal against Fiji‚ a team they haven’t beaten so far this calendar year.

By early in the second half they were down 0-19‚ although they fought back well with Rosko Specman scoring two tries and Dylan Sage going over once to force the match into extra time.

But careless play allowed the move that led to Amenoni Nasilasila diving over for the golden try to seal the match and relegate the Blitzboks to the playoff for third place against England.

There‚ a 14-0 lead for SA turned into a 14-21 loss‚ once again highlighted by sloppy play in the latter minutes.

This was the only day of the 11 in Gold Coast that SA failed to win a medal‚ their tally stagnating on 37 overall‚ comprising 13 gold‚ 11 silver and 13 bronze.

But the Blitzbok performance proved to be academic in terms of position on the medals table — the Kiwis cashed in all three of their golden opportunities‚ the most unexpected being the women’s sevens‚ where Australia were the favourites.

Their men downed Fiji to become Games champions once more‚ having won five of the six sevens crowns since the sport was introduced at Kuala Lumpur 1998‚ except for four years ago.

New Zealand leave Gold Coast 2018 perched on fifth spot and SA in sixth‚ which although one short of the Team SA target‚ was still better than their seventh spot at Glasgow 2014.

Even so‚ Blitzbok skipper Philip Snyman — named as the team’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremony before the day’s play — was gutted‚ and the tears he spilled after the loss to England were also for his late father‚ killed in a car accident recently.

“They [players and staff] are my family on tour so for only a week I could forget about all my problems back home and focus on what really matters.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t get onto the podium today‚ but that’s sport … I think the emotion’s a bit of both. I would have liked to win the medal‚” said Snyman.

Werner Kok said the mistakes had proven costly.

“It’s very disappointing‚ we know we could have played much better. But I think our basic errors cost us.

“If we could have done better on our basics we could have done much better … you have to use your opportunities.

“We have to go and build on this and just be better for the Singapore tournament in two weeks’ time. We’re only going to focus on the series now and then the World Cup.”

There are three legs of the series remaining‚ with the World Cup in San Francisco set for July.

The next Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will open on July 27‚ 2022.​

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