Cecil Afrika returns for the Blitzboks at the weekend's Paris Sevens. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Bronze it is!

While the Blitzboks didn’t manage to claim another Paris title, they secured third place at the 2018-19 World Sevens Series finale after beating the USA 24-7 yesterday.

Their performance in the third-place final against the USA was a much-improved display to the one they produced against New Zealand in the Cup semi-finals earlier in the day, and it proved more than enough to bag a medal at the Stade Jean-Bouin.

Against New Zealand, the Blitzboks were well beaten by the Kiwis, who dominated the breakdown and caught the South Africans out defensively when they opted to not commit at the breakdown - allowing them to stretch the Blitzboks on attack.

Poor discipline at key moments, especially on attack, by the South Africans didn’t help them either, and they couldn’t bounce back from a 21-0 halftime deficit and ultimately lost 33-7.

In the Blitzboks’ quarter-final fixture against Samoa, they produced a complete performance, starving the Islanders of possession and punishing them for mediocre defence.

After going into the break with a 26-0 lead, the Blitzboks didn’t take the foot off the pedal one bit as they went on to produce a 40-6 romp.

Their fourth-place series finish might sound like a bit of a let-down considering they went back-to-back last year, but given the transition phase the team faced, the result - and the Olympic qualification they gained - can be considered a pleasing result.

After finishing seventh at the penultimate event in London last week, the Blitzboks’ pool B game against Australia on the opening day of the 10th tournament was never going to lack any spice ...

After getting bossed by Australia in a number of areas of play and ultimately getting knocked out of Cup contention in the quarter-finals last week, the Blitzboks sure made up for that London disappointment on Saturday evening by outplaying the Australians and claiming a 19-17 win.

It was the South Africans’ third win on day one of the series finale in Paris, which saw them become the only team to top their pools in every single one of the 10 tournaments this season.

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In the build-up to the event in the French capital, Blitzbok coach Neil Powell lamented his team’s performances on day two in England, saying that they may have had it too easy during the pool stages, which he believes impacted their average efforts in the playoffs. This past weekend, though, there was nothing easy about the pool games as all three of the Blitzboks’ opponents on day one put up a fight.

In their first two games in France, the Blitzboks overcame Wales (22-7) in their opener, before they turned a first-half scare into a quality second-half outing to down Kenya 29-12.

@WynonaLouw

 

Cape Times

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