Cape Town - 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 quarter-final place at the Wellington Sevens in New
Results from the Wellington Sevens in New Zealand
The Blitzbokke will meet Kenya in the Cup
quarter-finals on Saturday in the New Zealand leg of the Sevens World Series
staged at Westpac Stadium.
In the other Cup quarter-finals 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 side 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 Blitzbokke 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 Blitzbokke 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 quarter-finals.
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 South Africans into
several mistakes, but the Blitzbokke eventually managed to wrestle free from
the tight USA defensive grip thanks to late tries by leading SA points scorer
Cecil Afrika and Kwagga Smith to seal a tense 26-14 win.
Coach Neil Powell was relieved that his
team progressed to the quarter-finals 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 Blitzbokke 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 quarter-final line-up at the
Wellington Sevens (SA times):
02:28 USA v Scotland
02:49 Fiji v England
03:10 Kenya v South Africa
03:31 New Zealand v Australia
Four fantastic #NZ7s Cup quarter-finals on Saturday - who's your tip to take the title in Wellington? pic.twitter.com/dt270Qd00r