The Blitzboks take a slender two-point lead into the final event of the 2021/22 World Sevens Series in Los Angeles, with London Sevens champs Australia hot on their tails.
Argentina are also still in the running for the series crown, but they are six points behind the table topping Blitzboks and will need some big results to go their way if they are to take the title.
It was Australia who made the big move at this weekend’s event in London, dumping out the Blitzboks in the quarterfinals, beating Samoa comfortably in the semis and then stunning rivals New Zealand 19-14 in the final to pick up maximum points.
The Blitzboks managed to shake off that quarterfinal loss to bounce back with wins over Spain and Ireland to clinch fifth place and move back to the top of the table.
The Blitzboks almost looked back to their best after a disastrous Toulouse Sevens the week before, with them enjoying an unbeaten first day to comfortably make their way into the quarterfinals.
The Blitzboks then got their quarterfinal off to a blistering start, with captain Siviwe Soyizwapi, Muller du Plessis and Ronald Brown running in early tries, while Ben Dowling replied for the Aussies just before the break, with the Blitzboks ahead 17-7 at halftime.
The South Africans found themselves on the wrong side of the referee’s whistle in the second half, however, particularly at the breakdown, with a string of penalties allowing the Australians to fight back as Henry Paterson’s double saw them take the match 21-17.
A head high hit from Paterson on du Plessis late in the game saw the South African stretchered off, but what should have been a straight yellow card ended up being just a penalty, which in the end was a big decision that allowed the Aussies to defend their lead in the final moments.
But the Blitzboks picked themselves up and defeated Spain 24-12 in the fifth-place semifinal, although they were made to work hard for the result with Spain leading 12-7 at a stage late in the first half before pulling away.
Their final match of the event then saw the Blitzboks facing Ireland for the second time, with the two sides battling out a scoreless first half.
The Blitzboks then opened the scoring through a converted try to Impi Visser, only for Ireland to hit back with a score to Harry McNulty, but the SA side made sure of the match with a last-second try to Mfundo Ndhlovu who surged up the middle of the pitch and scored under the poles for a 14-5 win.