Sevens

Blitzboks looking good after 'difficult' day

Werner Kok (Gallo).
Werner Kok (Gallo).

Cape Town - The Blitzboks advanced to the Cup quarter-finals of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens tournament in front of a packed Cape Town Stadium on Saturday after winning all three their pool matches. 

The hosts and defending champions topped Pool A with wins over Russia (41-0), the USA (28-10) and Australia (29-7). They will face Wales in the first of four Cup quarter-finals on Sunday (kick-off at 12h04). 

The South Africans had a strong day on attack, scoring 16 tries in their three matches, the most of all the teams. However, their defence was also tested, especially against Australia and the USA, but the Blitzboks put in some solid hits to keep their opponents at bay. They only conceded three tries, the least of any of the teams on the opening day. 

Werner Kok finished the day as top South African try scorer with four touchdowns, while Seabelo Senatla and Philip Snyman scored three each.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said that it was a difficult day, despite the good results. 

“Teams are now looking at different ways to counter us and especially Australia played a very physical match against us,” said Powell. 

“We have a number of quick steppers in our team and our opponents are trying to stop that. So it could have been better, but I am pleased that we topped the pool. That is always our first aim on Day One.” 

Powell praised the defensive effort and warned that Wales will not be an easy opponent on the second day: “Where our line was breached, the guys worked hard to get back and we only conceded three tries. That is very good. 

“Wales played well in Dubai and improved a lot this week as well. We will have to prepare well for them if we want to continue in the tournament.” 

In their first match of the day, the Blitzboks opened their title defence with a solid 41-0 win over Russia, scoring seven tries. Seabelo Senatla and Werner Kok scored a brace each, while Justin Geduld, Dylan Sage and Philip Snyman also crossing the tryline. Geduld, Branco du Preez and Rosko Specman kicked conversions. 

The home side had to come from behind in their second match of the day, against the USA, who scored early via Maka Unefe after three minutes. But the Blitzboks responded immediately as Cecil Afrika pounced on a stray pass and scored under the sticks. 

Less than a minute later, Kok scored his first of the match and another sideline conversion by Du Preez sideline gave his side a 14-5 lead at the break. A try within 40 seconds of the second half restart by Senatla and another successful conversion by De Preez saw the lead jump to 21-5. 

The USA did not stop trying though and Danny Barrett bumped a couple of defenders to score with two minutes to go. The result was sealed though with Kok's second, as he ran down the touchline with a number of defenders in his wake. Justin Geduld added the conversion for a 28-10 win.

Their final match, against Australia, three good attacking tries resulted in a strong 17-0 lead at the break, with five-pointers by Snyman, Kyle Brown and Afrika creating a buffer that was too big for the Australians to overcome. 

From the restart, Snyman crossed for his second of the match, which killed off any chance Australia had of winning and staying in the Cup race. They did score a late try, but a great run by Ruhan Nel sealed the win in convincing fashion for the Blitzboks. 

Fiji topped Pool B, New Zealand beat England 33-7 to top Pool C and Scotland had the better of Wales in their defining Pool D clash. 

The Cup quarter-finals are:

12:04 South Africa v Wales

12:26 New Zealand v Kenya

12:48 Scotland v USA

13:10 Fiji v England
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