Blitzbokke march into semis

2014-12-14 14:22
Kwagga Smith (Gallo Images)
Port Elizabeth - Champions South Africa have recovered from an early lapse to comprehensively outplay England 31-7 in their quarter-final on day two of the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth on Sunday and advance to a semi-final against Australia that will be a repeat of the Dubai final.

The Blitzbokke became more dominant as the game wore on and look set to challenge strongly for the win at this tournament that, with Fiji making a surprise quarter-final exit at the hands of the Australians, would see the hosts go into the lead in the HSBC World Sevens Series after three rounds, according to the website.

There might have been a few Blitzbokke fans chewing their nails when a defensive mistake allowed England’s Alex Gray to scythe through from deep in his own half to run more than 60 meters for the first try of the game.

It was the first time in a while that the South Africans have found themselves trailing.

However if there were any fears that it could inspire jitters through the South African ranks, those fears were quickly dispelled.

A yellow card against England in a deep defensive position quickly helped the Blitzbokke cause.

From a quick tap penalty the advantage in numbers was exploited to the left, with Kwagga Smith going over for the try which Branco du Preez converted from touch to level the scores.

The Boks started to pick up steam as they started to apply the pressure in their attempts to suffocate England inside their half.

Another tap penalty brought a similar result to earlier, with Branco du Preez going over on the left as the ball was used to create the space needed out wide.

Du Preez was unable to convert his own try but the effective match clinching moment came on the stroke of half-time.

The Boks were under massive pressure deep inside their own half as England took advantage of a spate of penalties after the hooter, but their handling in the face of the physical South African defensive effort was poor throughout the game.

It was to cost them particularly dearly at that moment as Seabelo Senatla pounced on a loose ball and ran three quarters of the length of the field to score.

It would have been a particularly demoralizing blow for England, as they had been pressing to possibly go to half-time either level or in a two point lead. Instead they went to the break 17-7 down and against a strong defensive side like South Africa that meant it was a long way back for them.

Cecil Afrika was yellow carded in the second half but it didn’t appear to bother the Blitzbokke, who just kept up relentless pressure with their hard tackling and line-speed against an England team that was constantly pinned in its own half.

One of umpteen turn-overs of possession led to a try scored by Werner Kok in the right corner to effectively make victory certain, with Kwagga Smith’s later try, running off an inside pass from Afrika, just adding further impact to the overall dominance of the home team.

Australia reached the semi-final by shocking Fiji 31-19 in their quarter-final.

The other semi-final will see the winners of the two later quarter-finals, in which New Zealand play USA and Argentina clash with Scotland, play against each other.

With Fiji out of the race, and with the Boks having dealt comprehensively with Australia in last week's final, the smart money should be on an appetising final between the hosts and the All Blacks.


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