By Mark Etheridge
Grizzled sevens rugby veteran Frankie Horne played a huge part in seeing South Africa through to the semi-finals of the Gold Coast leg of the IRB World Series in Australia on Sunday.
Down 5-0 to a James Stannard try and being dominated by the host nation in quarter-final action, Horne made one try and scored the winner as the Blitzboks won 12-10 in a nailbiting clash.
Horne is playing his 60th consecutive Series match and his experience is a key part in the SA set-up.
After some brusing on-the-deck action, Horne bashed up some valuable metres before finding Kwagga Smith with the offload and he went over to level the scores. The conversion by Justin Geduld made it 7-5 to the South Africans.
An indication of the Aussie dominance was that just before the SA score they had completed 23 passes to nothing by the South Africans.
After the break Neil Powell’s outfit looked a different side as they played possession rugby and heaped pressure on the hosts.
With four minutes to play a penalty saw a long skip-pass out to the right which found Horne with some metres to build up pace. Once the big man got going there was no stopping him and went over on the right.
The conversion was missed but SA led 12-5.
There was a late scare as Australia fought back bravely to try and take the game into extra time and after the hooter it was Con Foley who went over after a setpiece penalty play.
The conversion would have squared things up but Cameron Clark’s attempted conversion was a shocker that never looked like going over and the Blitzboks had booked their semi-final berth against Samoa.
There was no New Zealand in the semis line-up after they had gone down 31-7 to England in the quarters, the first time they’d missed the Cup semis since late 2011.
Picture courtesy of www.arenasport.com