Springbok Sevens clinch quarterfinal spot with hard-fought USA win

Feb 6 • Blitz Bokke, General News, International, Sevens Rugby, Sevens World Series • 2695 Views • Comments Off on Springbok Sevens clinch quarterfinal spot with hard-fought USA win

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Photo: Marc Sing Key

South Africa fought hard for their 26-14 win over the United States in their final pool A match on Friday morning (SA time) to clinch a Cup quarterfinal place at the Wellington Sevens in New Zealand.

The Springbok Sevens will meet Kenya in the Cup quarterfinals on Saturday in the New Zealand leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series staged at the Westpac Stadium.

In the other Cup quarterfinals the USA will face Scotland, hosts New Zealand await Australia, while Fiji will go up against England in what promises to be an exciting lineup of knockout matches.

The Springbok Sevens recovered from a rocky start following a shock 22-5 defeat against France to beat Japan (24-7) and the United States. This allowed them to edge out France on points difference to clinch second place in their pool.

The Springbok Sevens won successive tournaments last December and were unbeaten in their previous 12 matches. However, the French were in superb form in the opening match in Wellington and shocked the World Series leaders.

The loss against France meant South Africa had to win their next two matches against Japan and a resurgent United States to progress to the knockout stages on Saturday. The Blitzboks did just that and defeated Japan 24-7 thanks to tries by tries by Seabelo Senatla, Werner Kok, Warwick Gelant and Phillip Snyman. They then got the better of a plucky USA for a 26-14 victory in a match which they had to win by at least four points to qualify for the quarterfinals.

The USA finished top of the pool thanks to a convincing 38-7 victory against France and a morale-boosting 40-5 win against Japan before the final pool showdown with the Springbok Sevens.

In the USA clash speedsters Senatla and Perry Baker each scored twice in the first half to level the scores at 14-14. The USA played with great determination and forced the Springbok Sevens into several mistakes, but South Africa eventually managed to wrestle free from the tight USA defensive grip thanks to late tries by leading Blitzboks points scorer Cecil Afrika and Kwagga Smith to seal a tense 26-14 win.

Neil Powell comment – to listen, please click here

Powell was relieved that his team progressed to the quarterfinals despite their below-par performances and said: “It was a tough day at the office, especially during those first two games. However, the guys showed strong character to defeat the United States and to qualify for the quarterfinals on Saturday.”

The Springbok Sevens coach added his men now have a chance to start over on Saturday morning. “I am disappointed with the overall performances and the many errors we made. It’s back to the drawing board now; we will have to go out and get the basics right,” explained Powell.

The coach, however, believed that his team could bounce back strongly on day-two.

“We have shown in the past that if we stick to our structure and our game plan then we can be successful, and that is exactly what we will have to do on Saturday. The main positive from today (Friday) is that we will be able to start on a fresh note on Saturday morning. The players know that they did not perform well and they know what is expected from them,” Powell concluded.

The Cup quarterfinal line-up at the Wellington Sevens are (live on SS1):

02h28 USA vs Scotland

02h49 Fiji vs England

03h10 Kenya vs South Africa

03h31 New Zealand vs Australia

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