Samoa win in Cape Town, as BlunderBoks choke
FINALS WRAP: After three days of Sevens action at the Cape Town leg of the World Series, Samoa ended the event – and 2022 – in style.
Samoa put in a brilliant performance to defeat New Zealand 12-7 in a closely fought Cup Final on Sunday.
Samoa and South Africa are now on 47 points at the top of the World Series standings, after three events heading into 2023.
The United States and New Zealand are next on 44 points.
By the time the Cup Final was played on Sunday, the rain really was coming down heavily.
The conditions, which knocked out television coverage of the event, were almost unplayable after a storm broke over the Cape Town Stadium.
Large pools of water settled on the surface, making running and handling difficult.
Samoa celebrated after the final whistle by diving and sliding across the field, sending up sprays of water.
The Samoans took a slender 5-0 lead into the second half thanks to an unconverted try by Faafoi Falaniko after six minutes of the Final.
Two minutes into the second half Brady Rush found some space and scored for New Zealand and when Tepaea Savage converted they were 7-5 up.
Samoa was not done though and a try from Vaa Apelu Maliko converted by Falaniko got them over the line 12-7.
Samoa earlier defeated South Africa 10-7 in sudden death extra-time in the semifinals, thwarting the hosts’ hopes of winning their first title on home soil since 2015.
The BlitzBoks conceded a penalty in the first play of extra-time and Falaniko landed a dropkick from 30 metres.
There was more disappointment for South Africa when they were beaten 22-14 by the United States in the bronze medal match.
* Meanwhile South African coach Sandile Ngcobo expressed his ‘satisfaction’ that the BlitzBoks still share the top spot with Samoa, despite an error-filled third and final day in Cape Town.
The top four teams at the end of the season will gain automatic qualification to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
“We are happy with where we are, as this is where we want to be,” said Ngcobo – who saw his team lose to Samoa in the semifinal and the United States in the third-place play-off.
The team’s error count skyrocketed and their discipline was dire.
“We decided at the beginning of the season that we want to finish in the top four and get that Olympic qualification in the bag, so for us to be in this position is a good reward for the work done so far by this group.
“Obviously, a lot of work still needs to be done, as we are at around 70 percent of our full potential, so to be in this position already means there are good things done.”
South Africa had a slow start in the series opener in Hong Kong a month ago but bounced back by winning in Dubai last weekend.
“We have really shown nice progress from that first tournament in Hong Kong until here and that is where we want to be as a squad,” said Ngcobo.
“We now have to get back to the training field, assess what we did well and what not, and then fix that.
“For me, the biggest issue was not converting opportunities we created.”
Cape Town Day Three results follow below …
Samoa 12 New Zealand 7
New Zealand 33 United States 17
Samoa 10 South Africa 7
United States 22 South Africa 14
Fiji 29 Argentina 5
Argentina 26 Great Britain 14
Fiji 38 Uruguay 0
* Additional reporting by @Blitzboks