Blitzbokke to face Kenya

2015-02-06 11:08
Neil Powell (Gallo Images)
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 Zealand.

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?

Read more on:    blitzbokke  |  sevens world series  |  sevens  |  rugby

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