Flawless Blitzboks face France
Port Elizabeth - South Africa scored three convincing pool victories to book their place in the Cup quarterfinal of their home tournament, the inaugural Nelson Mandela Bay South Africa Sevens.
The Blitzbokke marched unbeaten to the knockout phase after victories over Canada, Kenya and Australia, who they beat 26-0 in the feature match of the evening. They matched their attractive attacking game with an equally impressive defensive display, not conceding a single point in their three Pool C matches.
The match against Australia was an intriguing affair, especially during the first half, when both teams elected to kick for field position. IRB Sevens Player of the Year, Cecil Afrika, back in the side after missing the Dubai leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, finally broke through the tight Aussie defence on the stroke of halftime to give the home team a narrow lead at the break.
South Africa changed their tactic in the second half, keeping the ball to work the phases, which resulted in 19 points to steer them to a comprehensive win. Mark Richard scored twice while Steven Hunt capped a good individual performance with his sixth try of the day.
Paul Treu, the SA Sevens coach, praised his side’s defence and said the key for tomorrow would be to maintain their momentum against France.
“We missed too many tackles at the Gold Coast and our focus was to rectify that today and to protect our ball much better when going forward.
“I am pleased with the overall effort, but France showed the past two weeks that they can be very dangerous so we will have to maintain our discipline. The home crowd was fantastic today and we are looking forward to play in front of an estimated 30 000 supporters tomorrow,” said Treu.
South Africa 45, Kenya 0
Hunt scored four tries before he was replaced, taking his tally to five on day one. Crowd favourite Afrika had the 11 000 fans on their feet with a typical solo effort, while Richards and Boom Prinsloo also dotted down. Branco du Preez, looking at ease inside attacking partner Afrika, slotted five conversions.
South Africa 33, Canada 0
The Springbok Sevens got their home campaign off to a bright start with a clinical 33-0 win over Canada. Du Preez, Chris Dry, Hunt, Cornal Hendricks and Richards all scored a try each as the hosts won their outing comfortably. Hendricks scored with his first touch of the ball to get his name on the scoreboard on his international debut.
Frankie Horne played in his 35th tournament, which places him third on the all-time Springbok Sevens appearance list.
The Cup quarter-final draw is:
Samoa vs. Wales
South Africa vs. France
Fiji vs. England
New Zealand vs. Australia
The complete results on day one:
England 26, USA 7; Argentina 5, Samoa 17; England 14, Samoa 24; Argentina 14, USA 21; USA 12, Samoa 14; England 19, Argentina 0
France 31, Scotland 7; New Zealand 39, Morocco 7; France 19, Morocco 7; New Zealand 45, Scotland 0; Scotland 50, Morocco 0; New Zealand 41, France 0
South Africa 33, Canada 0; Australia 31, Kenya 14; South Africa 45, Kenya 0; Australia 33, Canada 10; Canada 26, Kenya 5
Fiji 31, Portugal 7; Wales 42, Zimbabwe 7; Fiji 42, Zimbabwe 17; Wales 34, Portugal 7; Portugal 24, Zimbabwe 12; Fiji 29, Wales 14