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Card costs Blitzboks dearly as they’re dumped out of Dubai

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By Mark Etheridge

If ever South Africa ,needed to know how tough it’s going to be to win gold, indeed any medal, at next year’s Rio Olympics the United States fired a stark reminder by knocking the Blitzboks out of the Cup competition at the Dubai Rugby Sevens on Saturday.
Unbeaten after their first day’s games, the Blitzboks went down 21-19 after leading 19-7 with four minutes to play.
The game then turned on its head as try-scoring machine Seabelo Senatla clattered clumsily into US speedster Carlin Isles, sending him crumbling upside down to the turf, and was sin-binned for two minutes.
Two minutes in rugby sevens is an eternity and so it proved for the Blitzboks as they conceded two quick tries through the powerful Matai Leuta a minute after the yellow card and then Isles rubbed salt into the Blitzboks wounds by cantering over himself after many a missed tackle from the Blitzboks.
The successful conversion by Madison Hughes sent the US into the semi-finals and the South Africans into the Plate semi-final against Argentina.
It was an ‘iffy’ performance by the Blitzboks as they conceded three turnovers in the first 90sec and they conceded the first try of the match as Perry Baker ran in from around 40m out after a great pass from Zach Test.
Seven to the good were the States but Justin Geduld pegged things back after snapping up a loose ball after a scything tackle by SA skipper Kyle Brown.
The Blitzboks edged ahead after the halftime hooter had sounded as Philip Snyman went over down the right after a sweeping move by the Blitzboks after a turnover.
Second half action saw the Blitzboks increasing their lead to 19-7 as the unstoppable Seanatla had gone over to the left of the posts for his seventh try of the tournament…. and then the match turned on its head with that fateful yellow card.
The Blitzboks can have few excuses though after giving the ball away to the United States 11 times to the US’s seven.
The Americans are the undisputed giant killers in Dubai after having beaten the US on Friday.
Now having failed to defend their title in Dubai it will be back to the drawing board for the Blitzboks as they focus on the bigger picture on the South American continent eight months down the road.
One thing’s for sure though…. the fact that the sevens code is now an Olympic medal opportunity means that so many more country’s have moved up into contention for the podium, apart from the usual suspects, New Zealand and the Blitzboks.


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