Fiji dominate as final pool match ends in disappointment for Blitzboks

rugby01 June 2024 14:31
By:Brenden Nel

Fiji made sure that the Springbok Sevens second day at the HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid ended on a disappointing note, winning 26-7 to leave the Blitzboks without a victory in pool play in the showpiece tournament.

The Blitzboks were without several regulars, but were never in the game as Fiji scored two tries either side of halftime, before Rosko Specman grabbed a consolation individual try to make sure they troubled the scoreboard.

But there was little else to talk about after a poor day at the office as they lost a close game earlier to New Zealand after letting a lead slip on day one to lose to Ireland as well.

It means the best the Blitzboks can finish is fifth if they get through the final day unbeaten, but a far cry from where they wanted to be and a reminder of just how off the pace they are from their glory days.

Earlier, they bowed out of the tournament proper as they went down 33-24 to New Zealand in their second match.

The Blitzboks were hit by a flurry of yellow cards, going down to four men at one stage, but fought back bravely, only to watch the Kiwis score and then get a last-gasp try through a pass that was so clearly forward but not picked up by the referee Ben Breakspear in the final move of the game.

It was a disappointing end as they let their second game slip after being in the lead with 90 seconds to go, and ended their chances of winning the tournament or making the semifinals.

The win kept New Zealand’s hopes alive of qualifying after they lost narrowly to Fiji through a last-gasp conversion on Friday. South Africa let a 21-7 lead slip to go down to Ireland 26-21 in their first game of the tournament.

The Kiwis literally had everything in their favour as they got the bounce of the ball, held possession for long periods and definitely got the rub of the green on the decisions, but still had to fight to hold off a brave Blitzboks performance.


It wasn’t surprising with the surplus of possession that they scored early and led 7-0 before the Blitzboks finally got their hands on the ball three-and-a-half minutes into the game.

But when they did, they hit back hard, first through Christie Grobbelaar who bludgeoned his way through two tackles to open the scoring and then Quewin Nortje went in at the corner to put them into the lead.

Tiaan Pretorius was carded for playing a man in the air with a lazy late attempt to slap the ball, and then the Blitzboks went two down when Impi Visser was yellow-carded for an upright tackle where there was nominal head contact.

On the back foot, the Blitzboks held New Zealand up over the line, but Tristan Leyds was carded for a seatbelt tackle in the process, and the referee awarded New Zealand a penalty try to see them 14-10 up at the break and the Blitzboks down to four men.

Astoundingly as they got back up to five on the field, a grubber ahead by Quewin Nortje found a flying Selvyn Davids who scored despite the numerical disadvantage.

Leroy Carter scored a scorching try for New Zealand almost single-handedly, beating two players with his speed and feet and changing the lead once again.

Another kick ahead, this time through sheer luck of the bounce of the ball saw Nortje score his second and give the Blitzboks the lead with 90 seconds to go.

But Moses Leo snatched it back with seconds left to play and then a lost pass by the Blitzboks, followed by a pass that was miles forward by the All Blacks allowed Carter to score his second and settle the game.

The Blitzboks will wait to find out their opponent for the fifth placed playoff later in the day.