The Springbok Sevens were made to work extremely hard for their Cup quarterfinal spot on Friday during day one of the Wellington Sevens.
South Africa lost their first two Pool C matches against Samoa and Canada and were able to qualify for the Cup quarter finals, where they will meet Kenya tomorrow, thanks to a better points difference courtesy of a 21-0 win over Wales in their final pool outing.
Already depleted because of injuries to first-choice players, the Springbok Sevens suffered a further blow when debutant Justin Geduld suffered a broken hand in their second outing against Canada. He returns home on Monday and will most likely be replaced by Branco du Preez.
Kenya, Samoa and Australia all finished the day with a 100 % record. For the first time in the 14-year history of the World Series, Sevens giants Fiji failed to reach the Cup quarter final stage and the Series’ second-ranked side France also missed out by losing a crucial match to Argentina.
Playing in their last pool match and needing a comprehensive win, Springbok Sevens captain, Frankie Horne opened their scoring against Wales while Stephan Dippenaar, crucially, added two converted tries.
Three second half tries gave Samoa a 19-10 victory against South Africa, who had led 10-0 at halftime thanks to Philip Snyman and Cornal Hendricks. But the Springbok Sevens could not maintain their grip which allowed Alatasi Tupou, Patrick Faapale and Robert Lilomaiava all scoring for the 2012 Dubai champions. Later, Samoa made it two wins from two against Wales, beating the reigning RWC Sevens champions 19-10.
Hendricks, Chris Dry and debutant Seabelo Senatla scored against Canada, who hit back with tries through Sean Duke (2), Nathan Hirayama and John Moonlight.
Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach, described the two losses against Samoa and Canada as a massive wake-up call for his team and added his players responded well to his call for urgency and purpose against Wales.
“The win over Wales will definitely give the guys a boost for tomorrow against Kenya, who will be a difficult team to play because of their good mix of physicality and speed,” said Treu.
Describing what went wrong in during their two losses, Treu explained: “We created opportunities and scored when we were able to, but we lost too many of the mini-battles. Samoa and Canada punished us for our mistakes, but we were able to defend and play with much more discipline against Wales.
“Kenya played exceptionally good Sevens rugby today and they finished unbeaten in a tough Pool which featured Argentina, France and Tonga. So it’s going to an extremely tough game against them tomorrow,” cautioned Treu.
Cup quarter finals:
England v Scotland
Samoa v Argentina
Australia v New Zealand
Kenya v South Africa