After Dubai disappointment, Blitsbokke eye Mandela Bay Sevens

2012-12-03 00:00

DUBAI — The Springbok Sevens’ disappointment continued as they lost their Bowl final 14-10 against Argentina in Dubai on Saturday. They now head home to South Africa where they will be looking to redeem themselves at the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth this weekend.

The Blitsbokke uncharacteristically lost three of their six matches in Dubai, including two crucial encounters on Friday, to register their most disappointing display at the Sevens World Series since Wellington 2001.

Former IRB Sevens Player of the Year, Cecil Africa, will join the squad in Port Elizabeth today, but he will only come into consideration for selection if he passes a fitness test.

The Blitsbokke will also name a replacement for injured skipper Kyle Brown, who suffered a broken ankle on Friday against England after less than two minutes of play in their opening pool match.

Argentina led 14-0 before the break, but veteran forward Frankie Horne scored South Africa’s first try just after half time (14-5). Later, Tshotsho Mbovane closed the gap to just four points with a well-worked try in the corner.

However, Argentina managed to do just enough to keep South Africa from scoring and to add the Bowl trophy to the Plate they won at the Gold Coast last month.

After being knocked out of the cup competition on Friday, following defeats to Portugal and Samoa, the reshuffled Blitzsbokke won their two earlier games on Saturday to reach the Bowl final. They came from behind to beat Russia 25-12 in their quarter-final before defeating the United States 22-14 to book a spot in the final against Argentina.

Pre-tournament favourites New Zealand lost unexpectedly to Samoa in the final, going down 26-15, just a few hours after their 15-a-side World Cup winning side had slumped to a 38-21 defeat to England at Twickenham.

New Zealand reached the final defeating Kenya 27-7, while Samoa beat France 12-5. In the quarter-finals, France scored the biggest upset when they beat Fiji 8-5.

Samoa moved ahead with a 19-7 win over Wales, while Portugal, who created the biggest upset on the opening day, lost 28-7 to New Zealand. Kenya beat Canada in the fourth quarter-final 19-7.

• South Africa were placed in a tough pool for the Port Elizabeth event this weekend following a lop-sided draw. The Springbok Sevens will face Dubai winners Samoa, France and Australia in Pool A in a very competitive race for the two group qualification spots on offer and passage to the Cup quarter-finals.

New Zealand, the defending South Africa tournament champions who lost to Samoa in the Dubai final, are the top-ranked side in Pool B, which also includes Fiji, Scotland and England.

Kenya have an easier task in Pool C and were drawn alongside Wales, Argentina and Spain. Dubai surprise package Portugal will also be pleased after drawing Canada, the United States and Zimbabwe in Pool D.

New Zealand currently lead the World Series standings on 38 points after two rounds, followed by Fiji, Kenya, Samoa (all on 32), France (27) and South Africa (24).

Pool A: Samoa, France, South Africa, Australia.

Pool B: New Zealand, Fiji, Scotland, England.

Pool C: Kenya, Wales, Argentina, Spain.

Pool D: Portugal, Canada, United Stated, Zimbabwe.

• The SA Women lost the inaugural Women’s Series Cup final 41-0 against New Zealand after they had managed to restrict the Kiwis to a halftime lead of just 12-0. The NZ Women scored five unanswered tries after the break for a comprehensive victory. South Africa can, however, take a lot of satisfaction from their overall performance at the historic event. They beat England and Brazil yesterday and then got the better of the Netherlands (12-7) to reach the semi-finals, where they beat Spain 19-17.

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