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South Africa Edges USA; Both Look To Quarters

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South Africa Edges USA; Both Look To Quarters

The USA runs out. Mike Lee KLC fotos for World Rugby.

South Africa beat the USA 17-12 in Round 3 of the Men's Rugby 7s in the Tokyo Olympics, or, should we saw the USA lost 17-12, because South Africa got plenty of help.

The game started with South Africa on offense, but the Eagles defended patiently and in an organized manner. Eventually the Blitzbokke were penalized for diving into the ruck and the USA got the ball back.

They went wide to Carlin Isles, who pulled out of trouble and sent it back left where Joe Schroeder shed a tackler and dragged another over the line.

Back came South Africa, but Stephen Tomasin poached the ball brilliantly and the Eagles had another chance. Danny Barrett got a big break. He was eventually dragged down by Selvyn Davids, but another penalty against South Africa gave the USA another chance. Tomasin charged ahead, and maybe could have passed it away. Instead he was stopped just short of the line and was penalized for holding onto the ball.

So South Africa got out of it, and pushed the USA back. Eventually a chip through was fielded by Martin Iosefo. Referee Craig Evans said Iosefo carried the ball back into in-goal, but it looked as though Iosefo’s foot was in-goal and the ball was over the line. 

But South Africa got the scrum-five, and out it went to Davids for the try in the corner. That made it 5-5 and that’s how the first half ended.

In the second half, Folau Niua dropped the ball as he was passing it, South Africa got the ball back and eventually put Stedman Gans through to make it 12-5. Then Madison Hughes lost the ball in his own half and Davids was in for his second.

The mistakes were just too preventable and made inside the USA 22.

Finally they got going. Hughes made a run and fed Brett Thompson, who had people around him but instead drove through three South Africans to score under the posts. That made it 17-12 with 30 seconds to go. But restart errors will kill you, and Cody Melphy’s kick went way to far into touch without bouncing. South Africa ran the free kick, took ma tackle, and Davids kicked it dead.

Three tries by South Africa, but not one in which the Blitzbokke created anything—it was all from USA mistakes. Two tries from the USA, and good ones, but they need to execute better on offense, and need to find more space for Isles and Perry Baker—who hardly touched the ball in games 1 and 3.

The USA has scored 38 points, which is 10th among the 12 teams in this tournament.

Now on to the quarterfinals. South Africa plays Argentina—no gimme there— and the USA will play Great Britain at 5AM Eastern Time.

The winner of the USA-GB game will play, most likely, New Zealand. 

Round 3 Results:

Canada 36 Japan 12
(Canada’s big win over Japan put them at 1-2 with a -14 points difference, which suddenly put them in the conversation for the quarterfinals)

Fiji 33 Great Britain 7

Argentina 56 Korea 0

New Zealand 14 Australia 12
(This close loss for Australia ensured they would be the top-seeded 3rd-place team)

Ireland 12 Kenya 7
(Ireland started the game with a points difference of -21, and Kenya at -14. So if Kenya won, they’ve pass Canada for the quarterfinal spot. Ireland needed to win by 7 or more. Ireland led 12-0, but a late try from Kenya ensured that Ireland ended with a points difference of -16, which was two points worse than Canada. So Canada in the QFs and Ireland playing for 9th)

South Africa 17 USA 12

Knockout Matchups

9th Place Semi Ireland vs Korea 3:30AM ET
9th Place Semi Kenya vs Japan 4PM ET

Quarterfinal New Zealand vs Canada 4:30AM ET
Quarterfinal Great Britain vs USA 5AM ET
Quarterfinal South Africa vs Argentina 5:30AM ET
Quarterfinal Fiji vs Australia 6AM ET


Pool A W L T PF PA PD Pts
New Zealand 3 0 0 99 31 68 9
Argentina 2 1 0 99 54 45 7
Australia 1 2 0 73 48 25 5
Republic of Korea 0 3 0 10 148 -138 3
Pool B W L T PF PA PD Pts
Fiji 3 0 0 85 40 45 9
Great Britain 2 1 0 65 33 32 7
Canada 1 2 0 50 64 -14 5
Japan 0 3 0 31 94 -63 3
Pool C W L T PF PA PD Pts
South Africa 3 0 0 47 19 28 9
United States 2 1 0 38 31 7 7
Ireland 1 2 0 43 59 -16 5
Kenya 0 3 0 26 45 -19 3