/ 12 February 2007

Sevens: Bok hopes dashed by referee

Springbok coach Paul Treu’s hopes of winning the San Diego Sevens were demolished by a controversial refereeing call at Petco Park in San Diego on Sunday.

The Springboks had fought a titanic tussle with world champions Fiji, forcing the game into extra time after the teams were deadlocked 21-all at the end of full time when referee Matt Stanish’s mistake cost them a place in the semifinals.

Stanish missed a knock-on by Mosese Volavola as the ball went forward from his hands into Mzwandile Stick, and allowed play to continue, which saw Volavola pick up and score the winning try.

The Springboks did bounce back to win the Plate final after first beating England 21-14 and then coming from behind twice to beat Scotland 28-19 and in the process scored some vital points that will keep them in the International Rugby Board Sevens race.

Fiji won the San Diego title by beating Samoa 38-24 in the final. Fiji and New Zealand are both on 60 points, with South Africa just four points behind on 56 points.

The South Africans went 14-0 up against Fiji through tries by Gcobani Bobo and Ryno Benjamin, but then two tries by William Ryder and one by Waisale Serevi saw Fiji storm back into the lead in the second half.

A late try by Marius Schoeman forced the game into extra time, where Volavola took the honours for Fiji.

In the semifinal, two tries by Gcobani Bobo and one by Stick ensured victory for the Boks while Scotland, who upset Australia in the other Plate semifinal, were good value as they took the lead twice.

Bobo and Stick scored in the first half, before a beauty of a try by Howard Noble, who outstripped the defence from his own line and a final turnover try by Jonathan Mokuena, sealed some valuable points for the Springboks.

”It was a disappointing result and I was disappointed with some of the senior players,” Treu said afterwards, ”But we had our chances and we didn’t take them. We did some stupid things at times, but the guys showed a lot of character to come back and win the Plate. Those points were vital for us in the long run.”

The next Sevens tournament is the Hong Kong Sevens, which takes place at the end of March. — Sapa