Having lost their final pool game to Ireland, the Springbok Sevens were expected to produce an improved performance under hot conditions at Cape Town Stadium.
However, their quarter-final performance was comfortably their worst of the season, as the hosts slipped tackles and failed to make any inroads into Australia’s half, let alone their 22-metre area, suffering a 28-0 whitewash in the process.
There were troubling signs from the first kick-off as youngster Quewin Nortje was flatted, allowing Australia to run 60 metres into South Africa’s 22, before the speedster was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-down.
While the Blitzboks did excellently to see out that period without conceding, the dam wall eventually broke as Australia scored a quickfire double before the break, the second try coming from captain Selvyn Davids’ inability to find touch from a penalty with 30 seconds to play in the first half.
Australia continued to pin the hosts in their own 22 in the second with high and hanging restarts and the result was all but sealed when a promising Blitzboks attack ended in the visitors intercepting a desperate offload and going up the other end to score.
“Yes, they really did put us off our game,” said Ngcobo.
“From the kick-off they just kept on getting momentum. It was difficult when we got the yellow card, but we showed good character on defence. It just wasn’t good enough. They won the seven minutes and from then onwards we were chasing the game.
Ngcobo doesn’t believe his players are succumbing to the added pressure of having to perform in front of their home crowd.
“Not all. I believe it’s just an on the day thing, it’s got nothing to do (with playing in front of your home crowd). If anything it gives us strength. It’s a privilege to play in our own country.
“It’s all about what we need to do on the day. For the last two years we played this team 11 times. We won seven and they won four. The four hurt more than seven, which is a little bit frustrating.
“We played them pre-season, in Dubai and now which is a little bit frustrating. It’s still a long circuit. We have to show character and finish strong because that is what sevens rugby is all about.”