Blitzboks down NZ, secure Vegas semi-final spot

Seabelo Senatla
Seabelo Senatla

Cape Town - The Blitzboks defeated New Zealand 14-7 in their Cup quarter-final match on Sunday morning at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas to book a semi-final showdown with Australia at the USA event.

Seabelo Senatla scored two first half tries for the South Africans, who then delivered a huge defensive effort to restrict New Zealand to just one score in the second half.

Senatla has now scored nine tries in four matches at the three-day tournament, which is the fifth stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.

The other semi-final will be contested between the USA and Fiji, who currently share a three way tie on top of the World Series standings with South Africa and New Zealand.

In the other three quarter-final matches, the USA defeated Kenya 26-14, Fiji powered to a 43-7 win over Japan and Australia edged Argentina by 26-12.

Tournament hosts, the USA, meet Fiji at 22h50 on Sunday (SA time), while starting time for the Blitzboks versus Australia clash is 23h12.

Neil Powell, the Blitzboks coach said he was happy with the New Zealand result, but he also cautioned that the Australians will be a tough nut to crack.

“I’m pleased with the way we controlled the match in especially the first half against New Zealand. We could have pulled away from them but we made two mistakes towards the end of the half, when they had a player in the bin,” said Powell.

Powell was however satisfied with the composure and discipline of his side in the second half, when they were put under strong pressure by New Zealand. Looking forward to the Australian encounter, Powell said his squad can expect a huge tactical battle.

“Australia is always a difficult side to play because they are strong, very organised and structured. They will also bring a very good tactical challenge to the game. However, these are the type of matches you look forward to and it is another opportunity for the players to show what they can do as we also prepare for the Olympics in August,” reckons Powell.

Earlier on Saturday morning the Blitsboks defeated the United States 29-0, scoring five tries in the process, to finish unbeaten and top of Pool D. Chris Dry dived over for his 70th World Series try to open the scoring, and he was followed shortly by Senatla, who sliced through a gap after taking a quick penalty tap.

Senatla scored his second try after the restart, while Dylan Sage and Cecil Afrika also joined in the try scoring act to make the final score 29-0.

In their quarter-final clash against rivals New Zealand, the Blitzboks controlled much of the play and it came as no surprise when Senatla ran in twice to score. The Kiwis launched a strong fightback in the second half and was rewarded with a Lewis Ormond try. But the Blitzboks then came with a massive defensive display to shut out the Kiwis.

Senatla is the top scorer at the moment and he also leads the overall points scoring chart in Las Vegas thanks to his tally of nine tries.

SA results on day two of the Las Vegas Sevens:

Pool D match:

Blitzboks 29, United States 0

Cup quarter-finals:

Blitzboks 14, New Zealand 7.

Cup semi-finals schedule on Sunday (SA time, live on SuperSport1):

22h50 United States vs Fiji

23h12 South Africa vs Australia

The Las Vegas top try scorers are:

1.       Seabelo Senatla (SA) 9

2.       Phil Burgess (England) 4

3.       Colins Injera (Kenya) 4

Leading points scorers:

1.       Seabelo Senatla (SA) 45

2.       Justin Geduld (SA) 33

3.       Biko Adema (Kenya) 28

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