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08 Dec 2007 17:10
Fiji won a semifinal of sheer quality against South Africa 21-12 to set up a replay of last weekend’s Dubai final against New Zealand in the International Rugby Board Sevens World Series in George on Saturday.
They scored two tries in the final two minutes after being locked at seven-all at the break against the Springboks, who were exceptionally aggressive at the breakdown against a side that does not relish close contact.
The Springbok supporters’ hopes were high after Kabamba Floors scored a magnificent try from the second-half restart, running more than 60m and handing off a Fijian on the line to put the Springboks ahead (12-7). This followed smart running of the ball by Fabian Juries just outside his 22 and a dummy pass by MJ Mentz, which brought the Springboks a try by the latter early in the first half.
It was seven-all at the break, and the Springboks had perhaps given a little more than they had received.
But when the chips were down following Floors’s try, and already deep into the second half, the greater Fijian strength on the run stretched the Boks once too often for a goal (14-12) and then another as the hooter went from the scrum.
In the other semifinal, Argentina tried to catch defending champions New Zealand off their guard by using every type of kick available to them, and although it brought them their first try, it also backfired horribly.
A chip was caught by the All Blacks who scored from it, and twice possession was given away to provide the New Zealanders with scoring opportunities—which they took.
Despite the win of 38-14, the jury was still out on the strength of New Zealand after beating an Argentine side that played at their lowest ebb in the tournament.
In the Plate semifinals, two established Sevens nations were eliminated and the United States will play Kenya in the Plate final.
First the US shocked Samoa to lead 19-7 at half-time and 24-7 less than a minute thereafter to win 24-19. Then Scotland, who so nearly ousted South Africa in the quarterfinals and who scored their winning try after the hooter, had to rely on a Kenyan yellow card to get their noses in front with two minutes remaining. But again cruel justice befell the Scots as Kenya scored the winning try seconds before the hooter went, 17-15.
England will play Wales in the final of the Bowl competition.
First England beat Australia 29-14, and then France came from behind to force Wales into extra time. But it took just a minute for Wales to get the sudden-death try and deservedly advance to the final at 22-17.
England had very little opposition in the first four minutes of their Bowl semifinal against Australia and scored three tries to lead 19-0.
With the Wallabies having to play catch-up rugby thereafter, the yellow card to England’s Jack Adams came just at the right time for them and they closed the gap to 19-7 at half-time and 19-14 shortly after the break.
But then England drew away and closed the game out with two well-controlled tries after dribbling ahead to win by 29-14.
Two players who ply their trade in South Africa and play for the Golden Lions and Limpopo respectively in the North Region Sevens series, Wensley Mbanje and Gardener Nechironga, scored Zimbabwe’s three tries in their 21-17 victory over Tunisia in the one Shield semifinal.
Zimbabwe will play Canada in the final after the latter had overrun an outclassed Uganda 31-5.—Sapa
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