South Africa captain Siviwe Soyizwapi sealed a 12-10 win over Fiji with a last-minute try in the final of the Oktoberfest 7s on Sunday in Munich after New Zealand had earlier claimed third by beating hosts Germany.
South Africa were 10-5 down in a gripping final against the reigning World Sevens Series holders with time almost up when Soyizwapi burst over, dotting down near the posts for a converted try to win the Munich tournament.
The invitational Oktoberfest 7s, held against the backdrop of the famous beer festival, was used by top teams as a warm-up for the World Series, which kicks-off in Dubai this December, as Germany hope to host a leg in the future.
Kurt-Lee Arendse drew first blood for the Blitz Bokke in the final, but Olympic champions Fiji hit back with tries by Apenisa Cakaubalavu, following a superb off-load from Isoa Tabu, and Vuniona Vuki, who crashed over before the fleet-footed Soyizwapi settled the matter.
“It was a great effort from the boys,” said South Africa coach Neil Powell.
“In terms of structure and game plan, it’s still very early in the season and not where we want to be, but the guys showed a lot of character.”
Fiji coach Gareth Baber praised his inexperienced squad, which included five Under-20 players, but was superbly led by captain Terio Tamani, who earlier scored the last-minute winning try in the 14-12 semi-final victory over New Zealand.
“We’re building depth and this is the first time this group has ever played together, so I am proud of what they have achieved,” said the Welshman.
– Surprise package Germany –
Both Fiji and South Africa reached the final by winning their three group games on Saturday, but the weekend’s surprise package were hosts Germany, who beat France and the USA on Saturday to reach the last four.
Cheered on by home fans in Munich, the European champions pushed South Africa hard in their semi-final on Sunday before losing 17-12, then ran out of steam in the third-place play-off, going down 22-12 to New Zealand as Rewita Biddle showed his pace for the All Blacks with two tries.
“We knew Germany would be tough, no surprises there, they have been unlucky to not qualify for the World Sevens Series, so we had expected a tough battle,” said New Zealand’s Scott Curry.
“It’s been huge for us to come here, put some young guys in pressure matches and test their skill set at a tournament just before the world series.”
Defending holders Australia, who won the inaugural tournament in 2017, lost to both New Zealand and South Africa in Saturday’s pool games, finishing fifth by drubbing France 33-5 with Lachie Anderson claiming a hat-trick in a play-off on Sunday.
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