The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday secured wins over Samoa and Zimbabwe to top Pool A at the end of the first day of the HSBC Cape Town Sevens despite a close defeat against New Zealand in their last match.
The Blitzboks won 22-12 against Samoa and 43-0 against their African neighbours and despite a 26-21 defeat against the All Blacks Sevens, they qualified top of the group due to a superior points’ difference. They will face Scotland in the first Cup quarter-final on Sunday.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell admitted afterwards that the defeat against New Zealand was frustrating, given that they conceded two late tries after leading 21-14 with two minutes to play.
“We have worked so hard to get points on the board and then we concede soft tries and that was pretty frustrating,” said Powell.
“We created opportunities which we did not finish off, and then we allowed them to score twice. That said, I am pleased with our effort, we are definitely improving from last weekend in Dubai and I think we had a much better Day One than seven days ago.”
Powell said he will make a call on Sunday regarding the availability of Muller du Plessis. The young flyer took a hard knock against Samoa in the opening game and did not play against Zimbabwe or New Zealand. If he is ruled out, Selvyn Davids will replace the 20-year-old, who scored six tries in Dubai last weekend.
“We are facing Scotland in the Cup quarters and they will be a tough hurdle,” said Powell.
“We did beat them in Dubai last week, but this is a new week and a new game. We are improving no doubt, but come Sunday we will have to make even more improvement to finish our home tournament on a good note.”
The Cup quarter-finals on Sunday are:
SA v Scotland (12h04)
Fiji v Spain (12h26)
Australia v New Zealand (12h48)
USA v England (13h10)
A strong effort in their opener laid the foundation as the Blitzboks beat Samoa 22-12 in a hard-fought match dominated by solid defence from both sides.
The first try came fairly quickly, with Samoa silencing the huge crowd with a try in the second minute of play. David Afamasaga scored under the sticks after the Blitzboks got a tactical kick wrong.
The response was spot on though. First Kyle Brown scored in the left corner of the field to clock up his 86th try and shortly after, a Brown run down the right saw Philip Snyman scoring. The Blitzboks captain ran a good line from a ruck to score career try 64, which also put the Blitzboks up 10-7 at the break.
The second half started as well for the home side, with Justin Geduld scoring his 87th try. The lead was now 15-7. Samoa refused to give up, but Powell wisely introduced his bench and it was one of them who secured the result. Impi Visser showed good footwork and strength to touch down for his first five pointer in the national jersey.
South Africa 22 (10) – Tries: Kyle Brown, Philip Snyman, Justin Geduld, Impi Visser. Conversion: Geduld.
Samoa 12 (7) – Tries: David Afamasaga, Johnny Vaili. Conversion: Alatasi Tupou.
A hat-trick of tries by Siviwe Soyizwapi helped South Africa to comfortably beat Zimbabwe 43-0 in their second Pool A match. The winger took the first opportunity that came his way to round the Zimbabwean defence and five minutes later he scored a second, this time via an acrobatic dive to go over in the corner.
In between the brace, Rosko Specman also scored to give the Blitzboks more than enough breathing space at the break. In the second half Kyle Brown and Justin Geduld added tries as the home side romped away. Impi Visser got a second career try in the last minute and Soyizwapi ended a perfect match with his third try on final time.
South Africa 43 (26) – Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi (3), Rosko Specman, Kyle Brown, Justin Geduld, Impi Visser. Conversions: Justin Geduld (3). Branco du Preez.
Zimbabwe 0 (0)
And in their final game of the day, the Blitzboks went 7-0 up courtesy of a Rosko Specman try before two first-half tries by New Zealand saw the Kiwis take a 14-7 lead at the break.
However, the South Africans hit back strongly in the second half when Werner Kok and Branco du Preez scored and almost had the result sealed, but two more Kiwi tries, the last in injury time, sealed the win for the defending champions by 26-21, and ensured they qualified for the Cup quarter-finals, knocking Samoa out by virtue of points’ difference.
South Africa 21 (7) – Tries: Rosko Specman, Werner Kok, Branco du Preez. Conversions: Justin Geduld (3).
New Zealand 26 (14) – Tries: Andrew Knewstubb, Sione Molia (2), Vilimoni Koroi. Conversions: Knewstubb (2), Koroi.