Blitzboks take gold in Birmingham as SA Women finish on a high
The Springbok Sevens team won the gold medal at the Rugby Sevens event of the Commonwealth Games when they produced a brilliant performance to defeat Fiji 31-7 in a pulsating Final on Sunday evening in Birmingham, where New Zealand claimed bronze.
The SA Women’s Sevens team comfortably beat Sri Lanka by 52-0 to conclude the tournament on a high, finishing in seventh position, which is one spot better than in 2018 in Australia and made Paul Delport (coach) smile as he knew his inexperienced squad were facing a massive task in England.
Meanwhile, the Blitzboks played the final without the dynamic playmaker Ronald Brown, who was injured in the semi-final win over Australia earlier in the day, while regular skipper Siviwe Soyizwapi was also out injured and didn’t play at all on Sunday.
Zain Davids, who took over the captaincy, said: “I have a little bit of mixed emotions at the moment, but mostly I’m happy as we came out here and gave our all, and I think we can be very happy with our performance against a great team like Fiji.
“When ‘Shakes’ got injured, I had to take over the captaincy and I was happy to do that, because I know the guys support me, but I also knew that in this team you don’t really have to be a captain as you have a bunch of guys behind you that’s helping and supporting you.”
The South African men’s side made a great start to the final and scored three well-worked tries in the opening half while keeping the dangerous Fijian runners in check with excellent tackling and great counter-attacking play.
They deservingly led 17-0 at the break in the Coventry Stadium, while in the second half they combined their heroic defensive effort with equally great finishing performances. Muller du Plessis opened the scoring from a pinpoint Selvyn Davids cross-kick, an early sign of things to come.
JC Pretorius scored the second in the same corner after a sustained passage of attacking play, with South Africa looking well after the ball in contact. That put them 12-0 ahead.
Shaun Williams scored the third try as the menacing Pretorius stole another crucial turnover to put the little speedster away, the try handing South Africa a 17-0 half-time advantage.
After the break, Du Plessis then ran in for his second off an excellent cut-out pass from Selvyn Davids. Williams nailed the angled conversion to stretch the lead to 24-0 and left Fiji with a mountain to climb.
Fiji eventually got on the scoreboard when Nacuqu went over for converted try to reduce the deficit to 27-7.
But the Blitzboks were not to be denied. Mfundo Ndhlovu scored the final try with seconds remaining to seal a brilliant gold medal performance, denying Fiji the remaining major title that have escaped them at previous Commonwealth Games.
South Africa also won the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games staged in Glasgow.
South Africa 31 (17) – Tries: Muller du Plessis (2), JC Pretorius, Shaun Williams, Mfundo Ndhlovu. Conversion: Shaun Williams (2), Dewald Human.
Fiji 7 (0) – Try: Waisea Nacuqu. Conversion: Nacuqu.
The Springbok Sevens team qualified for the gold medal match by defeating Australia 24-12 on Sunday afternoon, with Angelo Davids scoring his third hat-trick of the Commonwealth Games as the South Africans recovered from an early 5-0 deficit to gain a comfortable victory.
The two teams went into the lead locked even at 12-12 after an entertaining first half but South Africa pulled away in the second half to book their spot in the grand finale.
Australia drew first blood when Mark Nawaqanitawase powered through to put the Aussies 5-0 ahead, but Angelo Davids then continued his prolific try-scoring form in Birmingham with his eighth try following a clever grubber from playmaker Selvyn Davids, with Ronald Brown’s conversion putting SA 7-5 ahead.
But the Aussies hit back immediately with a clever attack which saw Matthew Gonzalez go in under the posts to regain the lead at 12-7. However, there was just enough time before halftime for Angeloa Davids to score his second of the half, from a lineout set play, to draw the teams level at the break.
After the restart, Selvyn Davids charged down a kick and collected the loose ball to score in the corner, with a brilliant conversion edging SA ahead by 19-12.
Angelo Davids bagged his third try when the flyer scored out wide from a well-worked move. SA was now in control at 24-12 and all they needed to do was to manage out time until the final whistle.
South Africa 24 (12) – Tries: Angelo Davids (3), Selvyn Davids. Conversions: Ronald Brown, Selvyn Davids.
Australia 12 (12) – Tries: Mark Nawaqanitawase, Matthew Gonzales. Conversion: Dietrich Roache.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]