The Springbok Sevens team secured a tenth consecutive Cup quarterfinal berth in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, topping pool A of the HSBC London Sevens on Saturday.
Wins over Canada (21-7), USA (14-10) and Samoa (22-0) saw the Blitzboks top of the pool and resulted in a Cup quarterfinals match against Argentina on Sunday.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was pleased with the results on Day One, but not the overall performance.
“It was good to win all three matches, but we battled to maintain momentum. In the first two matches we played really good in the first half, but then let it slip and that is something you cannot afford on Day Two.”
Powell rates the Argentinians, who also included Rugby World Cup star Juan Imhoff in their squad.
“They are well coached and a dangerous opponent. We will have to use our opportunities against them and play with greater intensity.”
Fiji qualified for the Cup quarters as expected and thus secured a second overall series title. They lost their opening match against England and left the door open slightly for SA’s title hopes, but a good win over Australia secured consecutive series titles.
“They deserve that, they played good sevens all year,” Powell said. “I want to congratulate them on winning the series. We now need to go out and secure that second spot in the standings, as it will help with our draw in the Olympics,” Powell said.
Against Samoa, a constant drizzle made handling difficult and the surface slippery, but the South Africans managed to keep the ball through a number of phases throughout the match.
Dylan Sage was the first player on the scoresheet after good pressure on attack that saw Cecil Afrika being held up moments before. That proved to be the only score as the conditions prevented both teams from playing side to side rugby.
The second half proved very productive for South Africa.
Chris Dry was denied by the TMO, but Francois Hougaard was not to be stopped moments later. Two late tries by Rosko Specman and Siviwe Soyzwapi confirmed a convincing 22-0 win.
The Springbok Sevens defeated USA 14-10 in a tight match.
The South Africans held a 7-0 lead, courtesy of a Seabelo Senatla try, with a winger running nicely into a Dylan Sage pass. Cecil Afrika converted from the sideline.
Afrika scored a great individual try soon after the restart and kicked his conversion to push the Blitzboks into a 14-0 lead. The flyhalf broke through a number of tackles and showed a great turn of speed against the Americans.
The Blitzboks line-out play was very poor and it was no surprise when the USA capitalised on that to score their first try with a minute to play. The Eagles landed again after the hooter, but it was too little too late.
Earlier in the day, the Springbok Sevens team opened their HSBC London Sevens campaign at Twickenham on Saturday with a 21-7 win over Canada in a pool A clash.
A brace by Ryan Kankowski in the first five minutes eased the Blitzboks into a good lead. For his first, Kankowski was set free 50 meters out and the long-striding forward outpaced the Canada defence to score.
His second, from 30 meters out, came from a good turn-over won by Kyle Brown, who then freed up Kankowski to score in the corner. Cecil Afrika converted to give South Africa a 14-0 lead at the break.
Good defence from Canada kept the team in green and gold at bay until a snipe by Francois Hougaard resulted in a third try for South Africa.
The Canadians scored after the buzzer following a strong run by John Moonlight, but there was no doubt about the result.
South Africa 21, Canada 7.
South Africa 21 (14). Tries: Ryan Kankowski (2), Francois Hougaard. Conversions: Cecil Afrika (3).
Canada 7 (0). John Moonlight. Conversion: Phil Mack.
South Africa 14, USA 10
South Africa 14 (7). Tries: Seabelo Senatla, Cecil Afrika. Conversions: Cecil Afrika (2).
USA 10 (0). Tries: Ben Leatigaga, Nate Augspurger.
South Africa 22, Samoa 0
South Africa 22 (5). Tries: Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Francois Hougaard, Siviwe Soyizwapi. Conversion: Rosko Specman.
Samoa 0 (0).
The Cup quarterfinals are: (all SA times)
11h58: South Africa vs Argentina
12h20: France vs Fiji
12h42: New Zealand vs USA
13h04: England vs Scotland