The team came desperately close to shock New Zealand, were pipped by Fiji and then faded against Great Britain in three well balanced matches. In fact, they were within seven points against both New Zealand and Fiji and one score away from the same result against Great Britain.

“We did well, and I think we showed that we can play amongst the elite teams" said Dazel.

 "We delivered a very good effort today and although we made mistakes, we never stopped trying and came close to the first win. I cannot fault the attitude or effort from our players.”

Dazel said they challenge was now to back that up on day two.

“Every point counts in this new format and we must get some wins tomorrow. We need to come back with the same intensity and effort. We cannot waste the good momentum we picked up today.”

South Africa will face Spain in the ninth place semifinal at 11h42 SA time.

Dubai Day One summary

The Springbok Women's Sevens justified their newly acquired status as a core team on the circuit from the start, despite suffering three close defeats in their opening day at The Sevens Stadium on Saturday.

They were leading the defending World Series champions, New Zealand's Black Ferns Sevens, with under a minute to play, but could not quite close the deal and allowed the number one team in the world to score a match winner at the death, winning 19-14.

Against Fiji, the SA team held a 17-14 lead before falling to a late try and also held the lead against Great Britain before faltering in the second half to a 17-5 defeat.

South Africa dominated New Zealand in a dazzling start to their tournament, keeping their opponents on the back foot and pinned in their own half for much of the opening spell. Dominant defence and good pressure forced New Zealand on the back foot, and it was no surprise when Nadine Roos broke through, running onto a good pass from Libbie Janse van Rensburg. Roos converted for a 7-0 lead, which was cut to two points with a minute to play in the first half when New Zealand outflanked their opponents.

From the restart though, Rights Mkhari offloaded to Maria Tshiremba, who raced away to dot down 70 metres later. Roos converted and at the break, South Africa were in control at 14-5.

Mathrin Simmers attack against Fiji with support from Rights Mkhari (left) and Zintle Mpupha (right).

Mathrin Simmers attack against Fiji with support from Rights Mkhari (left) and Zintle Mpupha (right).

They lost some concentration early in the second half and when Tshiremba was yellow carded for not rolling away in a tackle, the experienced Black Ferns grabbed the opportunity to score. The conversion was good, but the lead remained in South African hands.

In the last minute of play, they attacked and came within a metre of the Ferns line, only to concede possession from which the team in black worked their way upfield to score the match-winner.

The start against Fiji was quite the opposite with the Islanders scoring straight from the kick-off and added a second from that restart. In a blink, Fijiana scored twice without the SA side touching the ball in the match.

Credit to the BlazeBoks, they regrouped quickly and impressively. Tshiremba scored twice in two minutes. With the first, she rounded her opponent on the outside and scored under the sticks for Roos to convert, but with the second, she just made it to the corner after a lovely run-around move with Libbie Janse van Rensburg handed her some space.

Roos missed the conversion, with Fiji leading 14-12 at the break.

The second half saw the pressure defence from South Africa bringing a positive result. Mathrin Simmers forced a turnover, and in a flash Simamkele Namba was off to the races to score.

That handed the lead to the SA Women, but again they could not hang on, with Fiji getting the match winning try in the last minute of the game.

Roos was on the scoreboard early against Great Britain, in a match where an SA win would have seen them qualify for the top eight. The try came from a great counter ruck by Zintle Mpupha, which opened up space for Roos to scamper away for her second try of the tournament.

Frustratingly, the SA attack, without Libbie Janse van Rensburg (groin strain), battled to find the fluency of the earlier games and too many plays did not manipulate the GB defence.

Instead, it was the Europeans who showed more composure and clinical finishing, scoring two first half tries and another in the second half to win 17-5.

Scoring summary:

South Africa 14 (14), New Zealand 19 (5)

SA - Tries: Nadine Roos, Maria Tshiremba. Conversions: Roos

NZ - Tries: Mahina Paul, Jazmin Felix-Hotham, Sarah Hirini. Conversions: Risi Pouri-Lane (2).

South Africa 17 (12), Fiji 21 (14)

SA - Tries: Maria Tshiremba (2), Simamkele Namba. Conversion: Roos

Fiji - Tries: Reapi Ulunisau (2), Ana Maria Naimasi. Conversions: Ulunisau, Naimasi (2).

South Africa 5 (5), Great Britain 17 (12)

SA - Try: Nadine Roos

GB - Tries: Grace Compton, Emma Uren, Ellie Boatman. Conversion: Isla Norman-Bell.