A Mat Turner try seconds after the final hooter gave England a dramatic 19-17 victory over South Africa in their Plate semi-final clash of the Marriot London Sevens at Twickenham on Sunday afternoon.
Turner, one of three nominees for the HSBC Sevens World Series Player of the Year, scored under the posts after the Blitzbokke had led 17-12 when the siren signalled the end of playing time.
The match produced a real Sevens thriller, with the lead changing several times and the two teams entertaining the huge crowd to an excellent exhibition of Sevens action. Fiji and Samoa advanced through to the Cup Final.
Tom Powell scored the first try for England after beating the challenge of Kyle Brown. Cornal Hendricks, using his upper-body strength, then brought the Blitzbokke back on terms after he collected an offload from Jamba Ulengo to burst over (5-5).
Unfortunately for South Africa, the flying Steven Hunt was then called back for a forward pass from Frankie Horne. Second later Hendricks used his explosive pace to run in his second try on the stroke of halftime to hand the Blitzbokke a 10-5 advantage at the break.
Sam Edgerley took an excellent pass from Tom Mitchell to score under the posts to hand England the lead at 12-10 after the restart. Brown then collected a high cross kick from Philip Burger to score under the poles (17-12). But Turner scored with the last movement of the match to clinch a dramatic 19-17 win for England and in doing so brought an end to South Africa’s frustrating season.
South Africa got their day off to a disappointing start when arch rivals New Zealand outplayed them 36-0 in the first of the four Cup quarter-finals. The Kiwis never allowed the South Africans any sort of possession and pinned the Blitzbokke for much of the match in their own half.
The victory also allowed New Zealand to clinch their tenth World Series title.
South Africa coach Paul Treu could not hide his disappointment with his team’s very indifferent season.
“After a disappointing performance against New Zealand we played much better against England and were unlucky not to win.
“I realise our overall performances this year were not good enough and it was disappointing for our many fans in South Africa and also those who follow us abroad across the World Series.
“We lost several key players and introduced a number of new ones. Some of them found the pace and intensity difficult to handle while others showed that, with a couple more chances, they can establish themselves in this demanding arena.
“The squad will now take a break and when we reassemble we will start from scratch. We will have an honest assessment and then start on preparations to get us ready for hopefully a much more successful new campaign next season.
Steven Hunt had a good tournament and scored four tries while Jamba Ulengo, in only his second tournament, also showed much promise,” the coach added.