The Springbok Sevens will have to defeat Australia and Wales on Saturday if they want to advance to the knockout stages of the Hong Kong Sevens after their 21-0 loss on Friday afternoon (SA time) to Argentina.
Both sided made several errors during a tough tussle in the first half, although the South Americans succeeded in their efforts to restrict the Springbok Sevens to their own half. South Africa dominated possession and led the passing statistics 22-5 at halftime, but Argentina kept them scoreless with some stubborn defence.
Argentines switched to a clever kicking tactic after halftime, which saw them gaining huge amounts of territory from where they launched several attacks.
Substitute Nicolas Bruzzone made an immediate impact after coming on to eventually broke the deadlock with a burst through the SA defensive line.
South Africa tried everything to break the tackling stronghold of the Pumas, but their efforts were undone by several unforced errors in the slippery and heavy underfoot conditions.
A clever grubber and quick follow up from Bruzzone led to Argentina’s second converted try, and with just over two minutes to go the odds were heavily stacked against a Blitzbokke comeback.
In their effort to run from deep inside their own territory, a Blitzbokke stray pass found the outstretched hands of Juan Ignacio Brex, who gratefully scored a try in the dying seconds to round off an impressive display by the Pumas over the Las Vegas champions.
Paul Treu, the South Africa Sevens coach, said unforced errors led to the downfall of his team.
“We knew Argentina would be physical, difficult to break down and strong in the tackle. They did well to keep us in our own territory in the first half, but we did not perhaps use our possession as well as we could have.
“In the second half they changed their tactic somewhat and gained good territory with their kicking game, which led to their first two tries. However, we committed silly errors, such as the one that gifted them their third try.
“It’s now back to the drawing board for us, we will regroup and must bounce back with a positive and much better display against Wales tomorrow morning. There are still much to play for,” said Treu.
South Africa’s remaining pool matches on Saturday are against Wales (07h46, SA time) and Australia (14h00).
There were some positive results for some of the other African teams on day one of the three day tournament.
Kenya beat the USA 17-14, Zimbabwe defeated Mexico 27-0 while Tunisia managed to score an impressive but close fought 14-12 win over Tonga.