This game was never going to lack any spice…
After getting bossed by Australia in a number of areas of play and ultimately getting knocked out of Cup contention in the quarterfinals last week, the Blitzboks sure made up for that London disappointment on Saturday evening by outplaying the Australians and claiming a 19-17 win.
It was the South Africans’ third win on Day One of the Series finale in Paris, which saw them become the only team to top their pools in every single one of the 10 tournaments this season.
In the build-up to the event in the French capital, Blitzbok chief Neil Powell lamented his guys’ performances on Day Two in England, saying that they may have had it too easy during the Pool stages, which he believes impacted their average efforts in the playoffs.
This week, there was nothing easy about the pool games, though, and that just might be a good thing.
In their last game of the day, Blitzboks playmaker Justin Geduld wasted no time to hurt the Aussies as he got his hands on the ball before putting in a jinx and pacing in to score (7-0).
The South Africans were clearly on a mission, and shortly afterwards, Werner Kok popped the ball up in the middle for JC Pretorius to eagerly receive and run in a try (14-0).
The Blitzboks got a penalty when flyer Muller du Plessis was hit with a nasty late tackle, but the numerical disadvantage didn’t deter the Aussies too much, as Matt Hood ran in the their first try of the match (14-5).
Just as half-time hit, Maurice Longbottom showed just why his rise as a Sevens star has been such a remarkable one when he showed his pace to narrow the Blitzboks’ lead with a stunner of a try (14-10 half-time).
Neil Powell’s charges extended their lead early in the second half when forward Impi Visser showed top awareness to run in their third try (19-10), but debutant Will Maddocks made it a tight one when he sprinted down touch to score for Australia (19-17).
It was the last score of the game, and while the Blitzboks succeeded in making up for their London disappointment against the Aussies, the win will also have done their confidence some good ahead of Day Two.
Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks overcame a gutsy effort by Wales (22-7) in their opener, before they turned a first-half scare into a quality second half outing to down Kenya 29-12.