Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Blitzboks have had many highs over the past 20 years but few can match what the squad of rookies achieved in Hong Kong on Sunday.

The squad, made up almost exclusively of academy players, claimed the bronze medal by thrashing New Zealand 29-7 to retain SA’s standing at the top of the HSBC World Series log after seven rounds.

The Blitzboks earned 17 log points to total 126, three clear of Fiji. New Zealand are a distant third with 107 points with three rounds remaining.

The callow South African group, which included five debutants, topped pool C with wins over South Korea (45-0), Scotland (31-17) and England (33-15) before thumping Spain 38-5 in the last eight.

Muller du Plessis scored a hat-trick in that match.

In the semifinal against a full-strength Fiji, the Blitzboks took the Olympic champions to the wire. The irrepressible Selvyn Davids danced and jigged his way to three tries in the first half to give the underdogs a 19-5 lead at the break.

Of course Fiji responded as they scored three tries to lead 26-19 with less than 90 seconds left on the clock.

But the SA youngsters, despite being outmuscled by their physically larger opponents, never took a backwards step and kept pressing their more illustrious counterparts into mistakes.

With time running out, the baby-faced Du Plessis carved through a pack of giant Pacific Islanders to put his side within two points of the lead. But Selvyn Davids made his only mistake of the match, pushing the conversion wide to give Fiji a crucial two-point lead, which they clung to.

Despite Fiji being local favourites and Hong Kong royalty with 17 previous wins in the city-state, the crowd gave the Blitzboks a rousing send-off. Everyone knew that it was David against Goliath and that the giant only just triumphed on this occasion.

Fiji went on to win the final with a 24-12 win over Kenya and collected 22 log points.

Two yellow cards in the first half for Kenya’s Collins Injera and Willy Ambaka allowed the Pacific islanders to take a 17-0 lead at halftime.

Despite tries from Kenya’s Billy Odhiambo and Oscar Ouma in the second half, Fiji were uncatchable and cemented their reputation in Hong Kong as the team to beat.

"I’d like to thank my boys for the team effort and thank the Kenyan team for a good game," said Fiji captain Jerry Tuwai. "Hong Kong is always special for us, we respect and honour the tradition that Fiji has with the Hong Kong Sevens."

It was also their fourth consecutive Hong Kong triumph and their third title this season after winning in both Hamilton and Vancouver.

A full-strength Blitzboks now turn their focus to the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast where the tournament kicks off on Friday.

SA are in pool A with Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia.

TimesLIVE

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