The South African Sevens side, which includes the Grahamstown local Rosko Specman, moved back to the top of the HSBC Sevens World Series Table on Sunday, after finishing second in the New Zealand leg of the series. The Blitzbokke fell to a dominant performance from the flying Fijians in the final of the Hamilton tournament on 4 February 2018.
Specman was ruled out through injury before the final, after putting in a series of excellent performances throughout the tournament. Specman had scored a double against Papua New Guinea in South Africa’s first match of the tournament, before scoring a try in each of South Africa’s two remaining matches on day one of the tournament, against Russia and England. South Africa ended day one undefeated to face Scotland in the Cup Quarterfinal match on day two.
South Africa continued their dominance on day two of the tournament, defeating Scotland by 22-0 in the quarter, and Australia 24-5 in the semifinal, setting up a date with Fiji in the final. Unfortunately, the Blitzbokke would be without the services of a number of players in the final, including Specman and Justin Geduld, who were both ruled out earlier in the day, as well as Dylan Sage, who was ruled out at the end of day one. The Blitzbokke entered the final with only 10 men fit to play.
South Africa took an early lead when Kwagga Smith scored, but a Fiji try from the restart levelled scores. Tries by Kyle Brown and Branco du Preez gave South Africa a 17-5 lead at the break. In the second half though, it was all Fiji, who scored three unanswered tries to snatch the NZ Sevens title away from the Blitzboks.
After the tournament, head coach Neil Powell was happy with the performance from his team, especially after suffering a number of injury setbacks. Powell added, “we are also managing our players, as we have a big season in 2018. The decision not to risk Justin and Rosko in the final was because of the bigger picture. They need to be 100% come Las Vegas, as we are losing four players back to fifteens now.”
The Blitzbokke return home for some more preparation ahead of the Las Vegas 7’s over the weekend of 2-4 March 2018.