The 21-10 defeat in the Cup quarter-final at the Stade Jean Bouin all but ended the Blitzbokke's hopes of staying in the race to catch up to Fiji in the World Sevens Series, as the South Africans have now been relegated to the Plate competition later on Sunday.
The South Africans can only gain a maximum of 13 if they win the Plate tournament on Sunday, but they trail log leaders Fiji by eight and needed to win the Cup to reduce the deficit.
But in a day of upsets, New Zealand and Kenya also went down in their respective quarter-finals, while Fiji survived an onslaught from Australia to go through to the semi-finals.
Samoa physically dominated the Blitzbokke in their quarter-final, as coach Neil Powell’s team played into the hands of the islanders by looking for contact instead of attacking space.
Whereas they shifted the ball around and created space for speed king Seabelo Senatla in a 30-7 win over Brazil on Saturday, the Blitzbokke ran straight into the robust Samoan defence and conceded a number of breakdown penalties as a result on Sunday.
They started off well enough when a well-worked move from a tap penalty five metres out by Rosko Specman saw Ruhan Nel get through two defenders to dot down.
But that was as good as it got for the Blitzbokke, as Samoa’s heady mix of bone-crunching tackles and breathtaking offloads on attack twisted the South Africans into knots on defence.
Ed Fidow burst through to put Samoa level, and Tila Mealoi’s conversion gave his team a 7-5 halftime lead.
Captain Philip Snyman and his side continued the strange tactics of running into the opposition rather than utilise the pace of Senatla, Specman and Cecil Afrika.
Kyle Brown almost pounced when SA won a breakdown penalty with three Samoan defenders on the ground, but he knocked the ball on in the act of taking the tap kick.
That was just the opening Samoa were looking for, and they landed a double blow to finish off the South African challenge.
First Alefosio Tapili stepped past Snyman and ran over 60 metres to score under the posts, and almost immediately afterwards, the hulking figure of captain Faalemiga Selesele powered over.
There were still over four minutes left on the clock for the Blitzbokke to mount a comeback, but Afrika lost the ball at a kickoff and Senatla’s pass went into touch.
Afrika’s try with a minute to go was too late to have any effect, leaving coach Powell looking bewildered on the sideline.
He clearly wasn’t expecting such a blow-out, and will be pondering just what went wrong to ensure that there isn’t a repeat when the stakes are higher at the Rio Olympics in August.
In the other quarter-finals, Argentina shocked New Zealand 19-17, while hosts France were inspired by their partisan crowd as they dispatched Singapore champions Kenya 24-5. Fiji were trailing Australia 15-5, but came back in the second half to win 17-15.
The Blitzbokke will next face New Zealand in the Plate semi-finals at 2.17pm on Sunday.
South Africa – Tries: Ruhan Nel, Cecil Afrika.
Samoa – Tries: Ed Fidow, Alefosio Tapili, Faalemiga Selesele. Conversions: Tila Mealoi (3).
Sunday’s Cup Semi-Finals
Argentina v Samoa (3.01pm), France v Fiji (3.23pm).
Sunday’s Plate Semi-Finals
South Africa v New Zealand (2.17pm), Kenya v Australia (2.39pm).
New Zealand 17 Argentina 19, South Africa 10 Samoa 21, France 24 Kenya 5, Fiji 17 Australia 15.
Original source: Blitzboks crash out of Paris Cup