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30 Mar 2008 07:37
outh Africa qualified for their first final in a Hong Kong leg of the IRB World Sevens series when they came from behind to beat defending champions Samoa 12-10 in the semifinal on Sunday.
The Springboks will meet New Zealand in the final later on Sunday.
South Africa were in trouble when Alatasi Tupou scored from a kick in Samoa’s own 22 after a favourable bounce after two minutes. Samoa, as is their wont, spoiled and delayed wherever possible, but were also successful in rucking the Boks off the ball on two occasions.
Then, just as the bounce had favoured Samoa for their try, a poor pass bounced right for MJ Mentz, and he went over after the halftime whistle to even matters up at 7-all.
The defending champions’ Lolo Lui surprised with a Sevens rarity when he struck over drop goal from well within his own half, and Samoa were ahead 10-7.
But then a fine run from the Boks’ Jonathan Mokuena down the right touchline saw the ball spun to the left and Mzwandile Stick’s pace was always going to get him in at the corner.
The Springboks had to weather a great attack from their own 22 by Samoa, and again it was Mokuena who was the hero with a smothering tackle when it all seemed to have gone wrong for Boks.
New Zealand, who have now stretched their unbeaten run over two years’ series to 41 matches and are one match away from theirs seventh successive tournament title, won their semifinal against Fiji with a run-away score of 34-0—only the second time that Fiji could not score against the Sevens All Blacks.
The writing was on the wall from the kick-off when New Zealand secured the ball from their own kick and were 5-0 ahead within a minute.
They also took the second ball from the ensuing kick-off, and scored from the penalty as a spear tackle saw Fiji reduced to six men.
It was hard, uncompromising stuff as it always is between these two Sevens trend-setters, and when the Kiwis made it 17-0 via a try by Tomasi Cama, it seemed all over.
And so it was, with Steven Yates becoming the tournament’s leading try-scorer when he then literally jogged through from a Fiji lineout overthrow.
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