France Sevens: BlitzBoks turn on the style against Fiji
DAY ONE WRAP: The BlitzBoks kept their Cup play-off hopes alive when they outplayed Fiji on their way to a 24-7 win in their second pool game at the France Sevens.
The win came after a disappointing 7-31 defeat to France in their opening match at the Stade Ernest-Wallon on Friday.
The BlitzBoks conceded five tries in a clumsy effort in their France Sevens opener but they were a different team against the Fijians.
As the rain came down hard over Toulouse, the South Africans kept their composure and led 12-0 at the break, ending with four tries to one against the islanders.
The BlitzBoks showed all the intent in the world on defence, mowing down anything that moved in white, and their defensive determination clearly rattled Fiji, who could not get their offload game going.
The South Africans were clinical in everything they did and they kept the Fijians under enormous pressure. Fiji did themselves no favours by conceding silly penalties under pressure and two yellow cards in the opening half cost them dearly.
First, Dewald Human scored the opening try of the match two minutes in, after the first yellow card to Fiji. South Africa opted for a scrum, attacked to the right and when Fiji were pinged again for offside, a quick tap by Ronald Brown saw Human slide over.
Human, back in the squad after a five-month lay-off, was at it again soon after. Fiji were just back to seven players when a slap down by a defender gave the BlitzBoks the numerical advantage again.
The playmaker cross-kicked to Shaun Williams who popped the ball to a charging Mfundo Ndhlovu to score in the corner. Human added the sideline conversion to give his side a 12-0 lead at the break.
Fiji scored first in the second half, attacking from deep and keeping the ball alive through numerous phases and in the end, South Africa just ran out of defenders.
The converted try cut the lead to five points, but it was back to 12 again after a gem of a try by Shilton van Wyk. The wing was boxed in on the touchline, kicked ahead and when Jerry Tuwai, the Fijian sweeper, failed to control the ball, Van Wyk pounced.
The conversion hit the upright, but at 17-7 the Blitzboks had all the momentum.
They played the clock to a tee with excellent game management by Justin Geduld and from a decisive play, Ricardo Duarttee broke wide from a scrum to score. Geduld converted for his first points in 15 months and the win moved the Blitzboks into second place in the pool, behind France.
Ricardo Duarttee finishes things off for South Africa!🇿🇦#France7s | #HSBC7s pic.twitter.com/XUxM5FNLYN
— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) May 12, 2023
Against France, the BlitzBoks never respected the ball when they were in possession, were fooled into making two-on-one tackles which handed France easy offloads and generally fell off tackles they were expected to make.
To add to their misery, discipline was a problem too and Ronald Brown was yellow carded in the first half, handing France an easy score because of that.
The match started well for South Africa who had the best of the opening spell and attacked with purpose. A loose pass saw Mfundo Ndhlovu spill the ball and from the following restart, the centre missed a straight-up tackle to hand France their first try in three minutes.
Brown was then binned and with the resulting try, the hosts led by 12-0 at the break.
The French had the game under control and gave their home crowd something to cheer about in the second half. They scored in the opening minute after the break when a gang tackle by South Africa was nullified by a beautiful offload.
Brown then missed a tackle to hand France a 24-0 lead before James Murphy clawed one back after good defensive pressure near the French line, but the hosts scored another try near the end of the match thanks to another delightful offload to leave the South Africans with much to ponder.
In the other Pool C games on Friday, Fiji and the USA drew 21-21, and France beat the USA by 19-14.
On Saturday, the BlitzBoks take on the Americans, before Fiji and France face off.
In Pool A, New Zealand made it two wins from two matches. They beat Canada 29-12 before seeing off Kenya 31-5 later in the day.
In Pool B, Great Britain and Argentina both recorded two wins.
Great Britain outclassed Spain 14-0 before beating Germany by the same scoreline.
Argentina thumped Germany 29-7 before going on to beat Spain 21-19.
In Pool D, Australia were by far the most impressive side. They thumped Japan 49-7 and then edged Ireland 12-5.
Ireland opened their account with a 14-12 win over Samoa before their defeat to Australia.
Day One results:
Australia 49-5 Japan
Samoa 12-14 Ireland
Uruguay 19-5 Kenya
New Zealand 29-12 Canada
Great Britain 14-0 Spain
Argentina 29-7 Germany
France 31-7 South Africa
Fiji 21-21 USA
Australia 12-5 Ireland
Samoa 28-12 Japan
Uruguay 0-26 Canada
New Zealand 31-5 Kenya
Great Britain 14-0 Germany
Argentina 21-19 Spain
France 19-14 USA
Fiji 7-24 South Africa
Day Two fixtures
(Kick-off is local time)
Japan v Ireland – 11.37
Samoa v Australia – 11.59
Kenya v Canada – 12.21
New Zealand v Uruguay – 12.43
Spain v Germany – 13.05
Argentina v Great Britain – 13.27
South Africa v USA – 13.49
Fiji v France – 14.11
Additional reporting: SA Rugby