“Eish! Brilliant display against Samoa, BlitzBokke!”
I posted the line above on my FaceBook page after South Africa’s inspiring win over Series log-leaders Samoa.
Like the old days –
Reader and BlitzBokke supporter Trish added from Blouberg near Cape Town.
Susan Van Der Riet chipped in from Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
And that just about summed up the Springbok Sevens Team’s display during the 2010 England Sevens at Twickenham:
A brilliant, very enjoyable display reminiscent of the the ‘old days’ when the Boys captured their very first overall Series Championship Title.
However, the BlitzBokke’s attempts at clawing back their reputation as a championship team was tonight, perhaps a bridge too far.
The Springbok Sevens Team nevertheless reached their first IRB Sevens World Series tournament Cup Final of the season but they could not get the better of a young Australian team who beat them 19-14 in a thrilling England Sevens Cup Final earlier this morning (Hong Kong time) in front of 40 000 spectators at Twickenham .
Coach Paul Treu can however by well pleased by a much better performance by his team. The team has performed below par this season due to so many injuries to key players. Kyle Brown, the stand-in captain, was the latest injury casualty last week when he withdrew with a leg injury.
The return of the stalwarts
Treu recalled Fabian Juries and fit-again Mzwandile Stick and Neil Powell for the penultimate event of the IRB Sevens Series and the experienced trio did not disappoint him. Powell shone at the breakdown and with some deft handling while Stick again did not disappoint with his boot and even scored a number of exciting tries.
The mercurial Mr Juries
Veteran Fabian Juries repaid his coach for the faith he put in him by doing what he does best: turning games on its head with some exciting footwork that lead to some of the best tries on the Sevens circuit this season bar none.
One defeat only
The BlitzBokke suffered their only defeat of the tournament in the Cup Final after they played to a draw against Fiji on day one and beat the challenges of England and Samoa in the earlier knockout stages on Sunday.
Wise substitutes in the Final
Treu recalled veteran Juries after a two year absence and the little maestro showed everyone what they have missed when he put on a dazzling display after coming on as a replacement for the hard running Ryno Benjamin.
He first levelled the score with his first touch of the ball after Bracken Henry gave Australia a 7-0 lead. James Stannard then dived over for an unconverted effort to nudge Australia ahead again, only for Juries to step into the spotlight again with an even better solo try (14-12).
A title winning tackle
Henry Vanderglas then scored for Aussies and sweeper Stannard then made a match-winning tackle at the death to crash a flying Cecil Afrika into touch. It was Australia’s first tournament win since their victory in Brisbane in 2002.
The coach’s praise
Treu praised the fighting spirit of his team, especially the efforts against Fiji and Samoa.
“Of course we are disappointed with the final result, but we played much better overall. We decided beforehand to play Fabba off the bench because his fitness is not yet where it must be.
“But he showed that despite an absence of two years out of Sevens that he is still very much a special player. He should be in even better shape for Murrayfield next weekend,”said Treu.
Finally, in his post-Final talk to his charges, Treu said:
“Success is contagious” and added that: “Winning must become a habit”
However, while the BlitzBokke have shown glimpses of their former selves, we wish to add to the coach’s sentiment by warning that:
“Defeat can just as easily become contagious and can also become a habit.”
It is time we start winning the BIG ONES again.
Just like in the old days.