Mullin late brace steals win from Blitzboks

rugby31 May 2024 13:22| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel

A late score by Gavin Mullin saw Ireland break South Africa’s hearts in their HSBC SVNS Grand Final opener with a 26-21 victory.

The Blitzboks led 21-7 early in the second half of the season-ending match but saw Ireland’s physicality at the breakdown and some silky skills be the big difference as the season’s runners-up rallied back to win in the end.

It was disappointing given that the Blitzboks were the better side for the first half and showed a lot of physicality themselves but let themselves down at crucial periods that ultimately were the difference.

The match started off with a bit of luck to the Blitzboks as they tapped back a kickoff into play and then set three rucks before Tiaan Pretorius burst through to score. But technically as Impi Visser was out of play it should have been a lineout and not play on. Either way the Blitzboks celebrated their try just as hard as any other.

Ireland speedster Terry Kennedy then booted a ball through on attack and won the foot race against Tristan Leyds with ease to bring the Irish level.

From the ensuing kickoff, Justin Geduld ripped the ball for the turnover and Leyds popped it inside to a flying Quewin Nortje, who surged downfield to put his side back into the lead.

After the break, it was Selvyn Davids that showed a bit of Sevens magic to get his side 21-7 up, and it looked as if the Blitzboks were going to cruise to victory.

But a monster try by Ulster’s Zac Ward, bludgeoning his way through two tackles and then sprinting 85 metres to outstrip the cover the defence brought Ireland back into the game.

And they never looked back.

Swamping a tired defence, Mullin scored the first of his two tries before a side to side passing extravaganza saw the Blitzboks shoot out of defence twice, and eventually the ball moved too fast, before a series of inside passes found Mullin for the winning try.

It was a heartbreaking end, but a superb rugby game, with the Blitzboks now needing some big performances against the likes of New Zealand and Fiji to get out of their pool on Saturday.

Fiji’s Iowane Teba kicked a tough sideline conversion to give his side a 28-26 pool victory over the All Blacks in an epic game.

Earlier the Blitzboks Women’s team scored a 24-7 victory over Argentina in their Qualifier tournament opening game.

Nadine Roos and Maria Tshiremba both scored braces as they cruised to victory.

The Blitzboks Women’s completed the day with an emphatic 40-7 win over Belgium.

The top four teams in the eight team competition will win the right to play on the World SVNS Series next season.