The Blitzboks finished worthy silver medallists in the London Sevens on Sunday night after succumbing 21-17 to their nemesis side Fiji at Twickenham in a pulsating final between the two best teams this season.
The Pacific Islanders have had South Africa’s number in the World Series, having now won six matches in a row against the Blitzboks, and their victory on Sunday just about guarantees them the title.
After the weekend’s penultimate leg of the World Series, Fiji are top of the standings on 167 points, the Blitzboks are a close second on 160 and New Zealand are a distant third on 133.
On form, these two sides will be podium finishers in the series finale in Paris next weekend, and it will be very difficult for the Blitzboks to overturn that seven-point difference on the table.
The South Africans went into the final having lost two key players to injury on day one in Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez, but their depth passed the test and they made a decent fist of upsetting the favourites.
The Blitzboks had a good start in that they almost immediately had a one-man advantage when Fiji’s Sevuloni Mocenacagi was carded in the first maul after the kickoff, and they duly capitalised when Stedman Gans found space on the blindside of a ruck to score.
Fiji drew level when a successful counter-ruck on their 22 saw Josua Tuisova break through the middle and speed to the posts.
The halftime hooter sounded soon after with the rivals locked at 7-7, and then with the second half only seconds old, Fiji struck again, this time through Paula Dranisinukola.
But the Blitzboks retaliated from the restart when Ruhan Nel broke a cover tackle during a touchline sprint to score near the corner.
The unsuccessful conversion attempt gave Fiji a two-point advantage.
The to-and-fro scoring continued, with Fiji, in turn, scoring from the restart, their third try going to Jasa Veremalula.
And with two minutes remaining, the Boks were facing an imposing score-line of 12-21.
The brave Boks had the consolation of scoring near the death through Zain Davids to make the final score a more than respectable 21-17.