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‘We never take it for granted’: Blitzboks go coast-to-coast to stun France

By Finn Morton
The Blitzboks players huddle up at the Cape Town SVNS. Picture: World Rugby

South Africa will play Australia in a blockbuster men’s quarter-final at SVNS Singapore after the Blitzboks went coast-to-cast to score a match-winning try in a thriller against France in pool play.

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The Blitzboks and France were both unbeaten from two starts going into the Pool B clash at the National Stadium, and they appeared equally as desperate to keep their winning run alive.

Following day one wins over play-off-bound Samoa and Samoa, both South Africa and France readied themselves for a mammoth contest between two Titans looking to develop momentum.

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It was one-way traffic for South Africa for about 12 minutes, but then Les Bleus Sevens hit back with an Aaron Grandidier double and another try to Jean Pascal Barraque in a two-minute burst.

France had seemingly done enough to steal the contest as they set up for one last restart, but South Africa sent the crowd into a frenzy by running practically 100 metres to score the match-winner.

Dylan Sage, who returned to the Blitzboks’ sevens set-up about three weeks ago, joked about the almost-sideways swan dive that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

“I’m not known very well for my diving technique. I don’t score many tries,” Sage quipped in an interview with RugbyPass. “I don’t score a lot but to score a try like that is special.”

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It was a moment that felt like it’d been coming for a while. South Africa have struggled for consistency during the 2023/24 campaign but sent a message before Madrid with that performance.

The Blitzboks won the opening tournament of the season in Dubai with a win over Argentina, but they haven’t come close to repeating those heroics since – missing the quarter-finals twice.

But it was the manner in which they dispatched of Spain on Friday that turned some heads, and their hard-fought win over Samoa later on the opening day was another step in the right direction.

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South Africa have proven they’re a “resilient” sevens force in Singapore this weekend and that seems to present an almighty challenge for Australia and whoever else stands in their way.

“That’s a character thing. We started the first half really well, made a couple of errors that second half and then got the momentum back,” Sage explained.

“That just shows the fight and the character we build again in ourselves (to be) resilient.

“I think it’s everything for us to do our country proud, we’re a proud rugby nation,” he added.

“There’s so many guys back home who wish they could be here.

“But when we put the jersey on we never take it for granted and that’s why we train so hard, that’s why we try and win every tournament, try and win every game – it’s not always possible but the effort is always there.

“That’s what South Africa like the most and that’s what we expect from ourselves.”

South Africa take on Australia in the fourth men’s quarter-final which is scheduled to get underway at 8:12 pm local time. The winner of that contest will play either the USA or New Zealand in the semis.

France and Great Britain will go head-to-head on the other side of the draw, with the victor set to come up against one of the Series’ top-two teams in Argentina or Ireland.

Catch up on all the latest SVNS Series action from the 2023/24 season on RugbyPass TV. SVNS Singapore is live and free to watch, all you need to do is sign up HERE.

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Wonton 5 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 6 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

17 Go to comments
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