3 June 2008
South Africa’s Sevens rugby team claimed the Plate title at the Edinburgh Sevens on Sunday, defeating Scotland 14-5, to finish second in the IRB Sevens Series standings behind the runaway winners, New Zealand.
SA faced the Scots for the second time in the tournament, having earlier sneaked a 22-21 win over the hosts in Pool play when Stefan Basson slotted a drop kick from the 10-metre line after the final hooter had sounded to snatch the win.
After that narrow defeat and a first ever victory over Fiji to reach the Plate final, the Scots were hoping to, and reasonably confident of, reversing their pool result against South Africa.
Meanwhile, following an appalling 10-0 loss to England in the Cup quarterfinals, South Africa had recovered to beat France 17-0 in the Plate semi-finals and were intent on making amends for what had been probably their worst performance of the entire season.
With rain falling, there was more kicking than usual in the contest as both SA and Scotland put boot to the ball, rather than contend with the slippery conditions underfoot.
Things started well for South Africa when Fabian Juries put the side ahead in the second minute of the contest after being sent clear by Frankie Horn from a lineout. Scotland almost hit back, but lost the ball over the line in going for a try.
They were made to rue their miss when South Africa struck from the restart, moving the ball nicely through the hands to free up Horn for a try under the uprights.
Scotland replied with a try by Chris Fusaro after the break, but South Africa held out to win 14-5 and claim the silverware.
Coach Paul Treu admitted: “It (the Plate) was not the trophy we wanted but, looking at the season as a whole, it was a success.”
During the season, Treu’s charges enjoyed their best form in the middle portion of the eight-tournament schedule, finishing runners-up to New Zealand in San Diego and Hong Kong before ending the Kiwis’ winning streak at 47 matches when they claimed the Adelaide Sevens title with a 15-7 victory.
South Africa’s other results included twice losing in the semi-finals of the Cup, the primary competition at each event, twice winning the Plate final, and once finishing as runners-up in the Plate.
New Zealand, after their long winning streak, comfortably topped the table on 154 points, with South Africa, on 106, narrowly holding off Samoa and Fiji for second place. The Samoans finished with 100 points and the Fijians with 94. Fifth-placed England were some way further back with 54 points.
The season was a personal triumph for long-time SA Sevens’ stalwart Fabian Juries, who topped the try scoring charts with 41, which was six clear of Samoa’s Alafoti Fa’osiliva, the next highest scorer.
Despite the fact that he is not a kicker, Juries is sixth on the all-time IRB Sevens Series points’ scoring list with 895 to his credit. 865 of those points have come from 173 tries, which is second on the all-time list, trailing only Argentina’s Santiago Gomez Cora’s 197.
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