The Springbok Sevens team finished strongly to claim the bronze medal at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, the third tournament of the HSBC World Sevens Series.
The BlitzBokke thumped Argentina 35-0 in the third place final and delivered a polished display to leave the home crowd with something to shout about after the disappointment of losing to eventual champions New Zealand in the semi-final.
Cheslin Kolbe, playing at scrumhalf/sweeper in place of injured Paul Delport, was the big hero of the match, scoring a hat-trick of tries and providing great energy in the attacking play. He scored 25 points, with Phil Snyman and Cornal Hendricks scoring the other tries.
The BlitzBokke came up short against New Zealand in the semi-final, losing 12-5, with a try with less than a minute to play by the men in black, not allowing South Africa enough time to muster a final attack.
The hosts scored first through a delightful try by Delport, with the scrumhalf being worked the space to cross in the corner following some good interplay on his inside.
New Zealand equalled matters soon after the break and then scored late to deny South Africa a second consecutive final of their home event.
“It was very disappointing,” Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu admitted afterwards. “We had our chances and so had they, with the only difference that New Zealand took that the one that mattered.
“I cannot fault the commitment of my players, they gave their all. It is a pity we could not do it for the crowd who supported us so well. At least we finished strongly and gave a good performance in the bronze final.”
In their first match of the day, South Africa had to come from behind to beat a very competitive USA.
Although the BlitzBokke scored first when Ruwellyn Isbell finished off a delightful Delport chip, it was the USA who rallied via Nick Edwards to take a 7-5 lead.
South Africa responded brilliantly, scoring from the restart. First Chris Dry won the ball and, after some deft work by Cecil Afrika, Cornal Hendricks crashed over to give his side a 12-7 lead at the break.
The second half was a frantic affair, with the USA creating some scoring chances, but great cover defence from South Africa kept them at bay. Kolbe sealed the semi-final spot for the BlitzBokke with a great run to the line and a 17-7 win.
• New Zealand won the tournament in convincing style by beating France 47-12 in a one-sided final. After three tournaments, they lead the series table with 38 points. Fiji, Samoa and Kenya are on 32 points followed by France on 27. South Africa are currently sixth with 24 points.