South Africa claimed a hard-fought 24-19 win over Samoa in the Cup quarterfinals of the Emirates Dubai Sevens and will meet New Zealand for a place in the final later on Saturday.
Their refusal to give up and a swarming defence were the main instigators for South Africa, while scrumhalf Ricardo Duarttee also had a huge game for the Blitzboks. The nuggety player scored two tries and initiated another as the team crawled their way back from being 12-0 down in the first half.
Samoa got onto the board in the second minute when Vaa Apelu Maliko ran hard to touch down despite a good covering tackle from Dewald Human before Uaina Sione dotted down after the Blitzboks fluffed their lines from the resulting restart. They conceded possession and Samoa pounced for a converted try and 12-0 lead.
Duarttee then scored a brilliant try. Samoa had players in front of the ball at the kick-off and from the resulting penalty, Duarttee tapped and went all the way to the Samoan line, stepping and hand-off defenders along the way.
Two minutes later he bamboozled the Samoans defences again, this time offloading to Muller du Plessis, who scored the try to even scores out at the break.
Samoa started best in the second half, with Paul Scanlan scoring and converting to put his side 19-12 up, but then Duarttee stepped up again, scoring a try after another tap and go close to the Samoan line.
South Africa had the upper hand defensively and this stage and Samoa battled to get out of their red zone. From a turnover on defence, the Blitzboks switched defence into attack and James Murphy raced over. The conversion by Human was good and his side was in the lead for the first time with a minute to play.
That was played in the Samoan 22 meter area, with solid defence keeping them at bay until the final whistle and a well-deserved win for the Blitzboks.
Kick-off against New Zealand is at 12h39 SA time.
Springbok Sevens 24 (12) – Tries: Ricardo Duarttee (2), Muller du Plessis, James Murphy. Conversions: Dewald Human (2).
Samoa 19 (12) – Tries: Vaa Apelu Maliko, Uaina Sione, Paul Scanlan. Conversions: Scanlan (2).