CAPE TOWN - A young Blitzboks team can be very happy with their top-three finish at the Hong Kong event on Sunday.
Players like Heino Bezuidenhout, Rhyno Smith, Mosolwa Mafuma, Mfundo Ndhlovu and James Murphy were all given a chance to make their mark. And while Stedman Gans - one of the more experienced players - was brilliant in Asia, impressive performances were put on show by the Blitzboks as a unit and, of course, we saw a few fantastic individual spells as well.
Players from the SA Sevens Academy made up the Blitzboks team with stand-in coach Marius Schoeman while the Blitzboks regulars are at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast with coach Neil Powell.
The Blitzboks produced many exciting moments at the famed event, and their performances were testament to just how deep South Africa’s talent pool is.
In their semi-final match against Fiji, the Springbok Sevens team were edged out of Cup contention by a superb second-half semi-final comeback by a full-strength Fiji side (26-25), which set them up for a third-place play-off against New Zealand, which they won 29-7.
The young Blitzboks were off to a great start against the Fijians and crossed the try line in the first minute and at half time they were 19-5 up. But the Fijians meant business after the break, and although Schoeman’s team ran in another (unconverted) try in the second half, it wasn’t enough to book a spot in the final.
Fiji won their fourth consecutive Hong Kong title, causing the battle for the Series title to become even hotter. But while the Blitzboks haven’t been as on song (in terms of tournament wins) as they were last season, they still occupy the top spot, with Fiji in second place, just three points behind the South Africans.
The young South African team secured their quarter-final play-off spot against Spain on Sunday morning, which they won 38-5 after winning all three of their games on Day One and Two of the tournament. The Blitzboks schooled South Korea, Scotland and England on Day One and Two, giving them a perfect run as they headed into the quarter-finals against Spain.
Again, they might not have bagged the Cathay title, but the talent and skill that we saw from the Blitzboks in Hong Kong was pure gold.