Turning on the gas in Vegas

2011-02-15 00:00

THE Blitzbokke powered to their first title in two years as they turned on the class to beat Fiji 24-14 in the final of the USA Sevens tournament in Las Vegas early yesterday morning.

Paul Treu’s outfit didn’t let their poor record against the South Sea magicians bother them, nor the fact that their opposition had earlier demolished HSBC Sevens series leaders New Zealand in the semi-final, but upped the ante and led from start to finish to win the title.

It was a personal triumph for Treu, who after winning the 2008/9 World Series title, had to endure a frustrating year last season when his side made six plate finals, but not one in the cup competition.

The coach, who spends so much time trying to innovate his team’s approach with the little firepower they have, will be well pleased with the effort over the two days in the American casino hub.

Considering the Boks had only a draw in the pool games last week in Wellington to break six losses in the last year to the Fijians, the victory was even more telling as it finally rid them of the monkey on their back.

Fiji were sensational in the semi-finals, but made a critical tactical error when they tried to play their inspirational playmaker Emosi Vucago after he left the field against New Zealand with a dislocated shoulder.

The Boks targeted his channel from the start, and sensing weakness, saw it pay off spectacularly as Cecil Afrika opened the scoring after Branco du Preez drew Vucago wide and then passed inside for the try.

Afrika’s contribution to this team cannot be underestimated, as the playmaker’s return really seemed to ignite the team and gel them into a unit. But kudos must also go to captain Kyle Brown, who was always involved in go-forward ball, while teenager Paul Jordaan excited with his pace and willingness to hunt down the tryline. Du Preez may have struggled with his size at times, but the nippy halfback is developing nicely alongside Afrika and was on hand as the Boks scored their second try, a crafty blindside move that saw him dive in at the corner.

It would always be difficult to keep a team like Fiji under wraps, and thus it wasn’t surprising as they began to break Bok tackles and big Watisoni Votu scored under the posts.

But the Boks responded, and after a few desperate but telling tackles, they managed the turnover and sent the ball wide to Jordaan, who first hesitated, then turned on the gas to beat a desperate Vucago on the outside before passing to Chris Dry for the third try.

This gave the Boks a 19-7 halftime lead, but Fiji soon brought that within check as Mitieli Nacagilevu brought them within a try of taking the lead.

But there certainly was something different about this Bok side as they forced mistakes on the Fijians, and then used the good ball inside the Fijian half to send Bernardo Botha over for a crucial try that eventually settled the game.

Botha had to stretch over in the tackle and did well to evade the defenders, putting the Boks out of range with just two minutes left.

With Fiji increasingly desperate, the Bok defence held out to claim the crown, and take their first USA Sevens title in Las Vegas.

Afterwards Treu was ecstatic about the victory, saying he was pleased with his charges.

“It was a great victory for us, and hopefully this will show my young squad that if they believe in themselves they can beat anybody in the World Series,” Treu said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.