Posted on Monday, 04 Dec 2023
The Springbok Sevens started their 2024 HSBC SVNS campaign on a high note in Dubai, winning the opening tournament of the new look series, beating Argentina 12-7 in a pulsating final of the Emirates Dubai Sevens on Sunday.
The Blitzboks, who led 12-0 at the break, clinched a fifth consecutive title at the event and will arrive in Cape Town on Monday with good momentum before the HSBC Cape Town SVNS next weekend.
Both assistant coach Philip Snyman and new captain, Selvyn Davids, thanked the effort from all squad members involved in the preparation and gave credit to the good Dubai crowd supporting the event.
The Blitzboks arrived without Head Coach, Sandile Ngcobo, who missed the trip for medical reasons, but Snyman was quick to point to his role in the successful defence of their title.
"Coach Sandile deserves a lot of credit for preparing the squad so well over the last couple of months,” said Snyman. “The rest of our management also deserve this win, everyone did more than was asked, like our High-Performance Manager, Marius Schoeman, who travelled with to assist where needed.”
Snyman praised the players.
“We had a very good pre-season and the guys showed that they were ready to play six tough matches.
“The way they worked, based on defence, also showed their willingness to work off the ball and cover each other’s backs and that is a wonderful thing for coaches to see."
Snyman said he was impressed by the fact that the players also did their talking on the field.
"They said they were going to do it and backed that up with a wonderful performance over the last two days. They showed a lot of character, so all the credit to the players,” Snyman said.
The coach commended the newcomers to the team, Quewin Nortje and Katlego Letebele and said the healthy competition in the squad is pushing young and old.
"They really bring energy to the group and if you add that to the calm heads and experience of the older players, it is a good formula for success. We said we want to write a new book this year and the first chapter was a good one."
Selvyn Davids, victorious in his first outing as captain, said the good competition amongst the squad forces everyone to work hard and stay honest.
"This is a tough team to get selected for, as there are a lot of good players back home that could have been here as well,” he said. “We really push each other and that is a good thing. I want to thank those back in Stellenbosch for this win, it is for them as well. They worked just as hard as we did to make it happen."
Davids said the heat in Dubai helped the Blitzboks in performing well: " We train in Stellenbosch and believe me, it is as hot there. So, when we come here, coupled with the good support from the Dubai crowd, we feel at home."
The Blitzboks outplayed Australia and Fiji before meeting Argentina in the final.
In the final, two first half tries made all the difference for the Blitzboks. That gave them a 12-0 lead and forced Argentina in playing catch-up rugby, which resulted in rushed decision making, leading to errors. Add a punishing Springbok Sevens defence pattern and it was no wonder that the defending champions were lead at the break.
First, Impi Visser broke through several tackles, following good blindside play by the Blitzboks. Visser was found by an inside pass from Selvyn Davids and forced his way over the line. The conversion from wide out was off target, but South Africa was on the board.
The second try was sublime. Again, from a set piece, Davids threw a magical delayed pass that found a charging Shilton van Wyk. The outside centre raced through to score under the poles, leaving Justin Geduld with an easy conversion to make it a 12-0 lead.
The second half started fairly evenly, but when Ryan Oosthuizen was binned for a late tackle, Los Pumas used the opportunity well.
Matias Osadczuk outworked the streched SA defence to score and Santiago Mare's conversion cut the lead to five.
Some determined play by South Africa almost resulted in another try, but Rosko Specman was tackled into touch on the corner flag.
With seconds left, Argentina conceded a penalty, allowing South Africa possesion and a kick into the crowd to start the celebrations.
The Blitzboks qualified for a fifth consecutive final by beating Fiji 14-7 in a dramatic smei-final. The win was sealed only late in the clash when Masande Mtshali scored only his second career try.
It was a match of few clear-cut chances as defences held sway and for the first six minutes of the match, neither gave. That was broken by a Geduld try close to the touchline and he converted himself to put his side 7-0 up.
Geduld had another strong run but was tackled short on the siren.
Fiji struck back early in the second half when Pilipo Bukayaro was at the end of a typical, flowing Fiji attack, with his burst of speed taking him past two Blitzboks defenders. That left it all to play for with four minutes to go.
The SA try came from a good hack ahead by Specman and when the sole Fijian defender tracking back lost possession, Mtshali was quick to pounce and score. Dewald Human converted and the road to the final was cleared.
Earlier in the day, the Springbok Sevens scored four tries en route to a 24-7 victory over Australia in the quarterfinal.
South Africa held a 12-7 lead at the break.
Quewin Nortje opened the scoring for South Africa after three minutes and when Zain Davids crashed over a minute later, the SA side looked set for yet another Sunday clean sheet.
Nathan Lawson pulled one back for the Aussies though, exploiting the numbers in the SA defence, who missed Geduld due to a yellow card.
Specman raced away in the second half to reopen the lead and when Ronald Brown blitzed around the corner for a try in the last minute, the win was confirmed.
South Africa 24 (12), Australia 7 (7)
SA - Tries: Quewin Nortje, Zain Davids, Rosko Specman, Ronald Brown. Conversions: Justin Geduld, Dewald Human.
Aus - Try: Nathan Lawson, Conversion: Maurice Longbottom.
South Africa 14 (7), Fiji 7 (0)
SA - Tries: Justin Geduld, Masande Mtshali. Conversions: Justin Geduld, Ronald Brown.
Fiji - Try: Pilipo Bukayaro. Conversion: Terio Tamani
South Africa 12 (12), Argentina 7 (0).
SA - Tries: Impi Visser, Shilton van Wyk. Conversion: Justin Geduld.
Arg - Try: Matias Osadczuk. Conversion: Santiago Mare