Astonishing comeback sees South Africa crowned HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens champs

Finnish driver Valterri Bottas

Finnish driver Valterri Bottas

For about three hours on Saturday (April 13), defending HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens champions Fiji were teetering towards an unthinkable failure.

The Blitzboks trailed 19-0 with five minutes left of the match against a physical and experienced Fijian side.

The top four teams at the end of the season qualify automatically for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Fiji hoisted the Cup last weekend in Hong Kong.

The Pacific Islanders went on to lose 17-7 to the Blitzboks but progressed to the Cup quarter-finals by virtue of a superior points difference to Scotland (21 to -42).

South Africa will face Samoa in the quarter-finals, while Australia take on England. Thereafter Selvyn Davids, who already kicked a conversion, stepped up and added a penalty goal that pushed them into a 20-19 lead.

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A South African victory seemed impossible Sunday after a first half in which Fiji ran riot, exploiting handling errors and poor tackling to score three brilliant tries. Tries by Tim Mikkelson and Akuila Rokolisoa in the final two minutes of the match swung the tie in the All Blacks Sevens' favour.

Aminiasi Tuimaba, Napolioni Bolaca and Vilimoni Botitu all found the tryline as Fiji flew into a seemingly unassailable 19-0 half-time lead in the Cup final.

But they were given a get-out-of-jail card before even taking to the pitch, as Scotland crashed to a 33-10 defeat by Canada, who were bottom and had lost their previous two games (to Fiji and South Africa) by an 86-12 aggregate.

After their disappointing performance at the Hong Kong Sevens last weekend, Neil Powell's side had to start this tournament strongly, considering they are in the same pool as rivals Fiji.

"There was one time in the second half where we knocked the ball on and I thought "this is going to be tight", but we never stopped playing and trying". But a penalty for offside gave South Africa a last chance and Selvyn Davids slotted the winning penalty. "These youngsters hang onto every single word that you tell them and well done to them, they're very gutsy and showed it out there in the second half".

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