Cape Town - South Africa advanced to through to the Cup quarter-finals of
the Hong Kong Sevens despite suffering a close 10-7 upset defeat against
Australia in their final Pool B match on Saturday afternoon.
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The Springboks Sevens will now play England in the quarterfinals
at 5.50am on Sunday morning. South Africa are currently leading the HSBC Sevens
World Series standings by a narrow margin over New Zealand after reaching five
consecutive HSBC Sevens World Series Cup Finals this season.
Earlier on Saturday morning, the South Africans beat Spain
22-14 after a late rally by the Spaniards. The Blitzbokke raced into a deserved
22-0 lead but conceded two late tries while Stephan Dippenaar was in the
sin-bin for foul play.
The team decided not to risk with captain, Kyle Brown, after
he sustained a blow to the head on Friday evening against France, although he
was cleared to play immediately afterwards. Brown did not play in Saturday’s
two pool matches and will now also sit out Sunday’s action.
There is also concern over the fitness of Cecil Afrika who
hobbled off the field with a leg injury shortly after he had come on as a
second half replacement.
Australia played a very good tactical game and pecked South
Africa in their own half with some clever kicks and resolute defence.
Furthermore, the Blitzbokke made life difficult for themselves with
uncharacteristic handling errors at crucial times.
The heavy rain that fell during the morning in Hong Kong
delayed the start of match day two and the resultant heavy underfoot conditions
and slippery ball made the handling of the ball very difficult at times.
Greg Jeloudev opened the scoring for the young Australians
team and he was followed by his captain Ed Jenkins who doubled the score just
30 seconds before halftime when he latched onto a kick. Australia led 10-0 at
Afrika was then sent on as replacement in the second half as
South Africa struggled to break the defensive grip of their opponents. However,
his stay on the field was short lived when he hobbled to the sidelines again
with a leg injury.
Speedy wing Seabelo Senatla gave South Africa a glimmer of
hope when he raced through to score his fifth try of the tournament to close
the gap to 10-7.
Australia then collected the restart and kicked the ball into
touch to end the match in their favour.
Senatla also scored the first two tries for the Springbok
Sevens in their earlier match against Spain. Frankie Horne added his name to
the score sheet as SA raced to halftime lead of 17-0.
Afrika dotted down the
fourth South African try to stretch the advantage to 22-0, before Spain rallied
back with two tries after Dippenaar was showed yellow.