Historic day for rugby in Africa


Kenya grabbed their maiden championship after 114 tournaments, having lost previous finals in Adelaide in 2009 and Wellington in 2013.

The East Africans ran up a 20-0 lead through four tries in the first half, and didn’t let up the pressure in the second stanza as star player Injera scored twice to win the Man-of-the-Match award.

Injera also rescued his team in the semi-final against Argentina as he slotted a last-second penalty from over 40 metres out to clinch a 15-12 victory.

Meanwhile, the Springbok Sevens ended third by beating Argentina 28-0. The Blitzboks started their third-place playoff as if they were still wondering how they had lost their semi-final to Fiji, and one could hardly blame them.

It took the Blitzboks all of five minutes to score their first try against Argentina, but after that, they found their groove to record a comfortable 28-0 win, with Kwagga Smith, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Stephan Dippenaar and Ruhan Nel dotting down.

The valuable 17 log points gained pushes Neil Powell’s team back up to second position on the overall standings after New Zealand were beaten 26-21 by Samoa in the Plate final.

Earlier, the Blitzboks got one over the Kiwis with an excellent 12-7 win in the Cup quarter-finals, but were desperately unlucky to go down 26-21 to Fiji in a thrilling encounter in the semis.

The South Africans were still 21-14 ahead going into the last minute, but Branco du Preez was unable to pick up the ball as he slid backwards to try and grab it on the ground just five metres from his tryline.

Du Preez kicked the ball back over the line, and Amenoni Nasisila scored the try and the follow-up conversion levelled matters at 21-21.

There were just four seconds left on the clock, and the situation required the Blitzboks to win the kickoff and boot the ball into touch to go to extra time – that’s if they weren’t able to score the winning touchdown.

But Justin Geduld was lifted high by Tim Agaba and was challenged by Jasa Veremalua in the air, and it was enough to put off Geduld. He knocked the ball forward into the hands of Nasisila, who subsequently handed off the hapless Geduld and fed Alivereti Veitokani for the winning five-pointer.

It was a crushing outcome for a Blitzbok side that had slugged it out in a high-tempo contest that went from end to end, and they looked like they had the victory in the bag when Seabelo Senatla scorched the Fijian defence with devastating pace to put the South Africans 21-14 up with three minutes left.

Fiji never gave up, though, with Veitokani diving over in the corner to take them into the final.

But Kenya’s triumph in the final benefited the Blitzboks, as Fiji picked up only 19 log points instead of the 22 that the champions are given. They are top on 147 points, with South Africa second on 139 and New Zealand on 135 in third with just two tournaments to go, in Paris and London in mid-May.

– ashfak.mohamed@inl.co.za


Original source: Historic day for rugby in Africa