Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens team on Friday won all three their
matches of the Dubai Sevens, the first tournament of the 2016/17 HSBC
World Rugby Sevens Series and topped Pool B with their undefeated run.
They will now face New Zealand, who finished second in Pool
C, in the Cup quarter-finals of the season’s opener, being played at The Sevens
Stadium in Dubai. The match starts at 10:06 (SA time).
The Blitzboks overcame a tough final pool match against the
USA, winning 19-17, but already clinched first place in the pool earlier by
beating Uganda 46-0 and Scotland 21-5.
The match against the USA was a tight affair and leading
Blitzbok try-scorer after Day 1, Seabelo Senatla, admitted as much
“We wanted to finish top of the pool, so that was good, but
we did not play that well against the USA,” Senatla said.
It took a brace by the World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year
to clinch matters against the Americans, although a great piece of play by Kyle
Brown and then Cecil Afrika started the match in great fashion. In fact,
Senatla scored twice in each of the three matches to finish the day as the
leading South African try-scorer with six.
Brown received the kick-off, broke a couple of tackles and
found Afrika on a perfect running line to cut through the USA defence and put
the Blitzboks up 7-0 within a minute.
The USA did score just before halftime and just after to
close the score to 14-10, but once Senatla scored his second with a minute
left, the gap was just too big for the USA, who did score a third after the
“We made too many mistakes on defence, so will have to be
better tomorrow,” Senatla said.
That was echoed by Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, who
said a similar defensive effort will cost his team in the knock-out stages.
“I cannot fault the guys on the way they worked back when
our line was breached, but that happened too many times. We need to fix that if
we want to be successful tomorrow,” Powell said.
Both player and coach were pleased with the second half
effort against Scotland, which saw the Blitzboks score 21 unanswered points to
win, after trailing 5-0 at the break.
“We needed a tough game early on and Scotland certainly gave
it to us, Senatla said.”
Against Scotland, the Blitzboks fluffed some early scoring
opportunities. The Scots used their limited chances on attack well and scored
just before the break to take a 5-0 lead into halftime.
Some early ill-discipline at the beginning of the second
half cost the Scots dearly though. Both Senatla and Specman scored tries with
the opponents a man down.
Senatla then bagged a second with a blistering run,
confirming a 21-5 win.
“I am pretty pleased with the way we finished against
Scotland,” Powell said. “We showed some real grit and finished strong.”
In their opening match against Uganda, the Blitzboks showed
their fellow Africans no mercy. They opened the scoring within the first
minute, with Werner Kok celebrating his return to the series with a fine run.
A brace by Philip Snyman had South Africa in a comfortable
19-0 lead at the break. The second half saw two quick-fire tries by Senatla,
with Specman, Ruhan Nel and Kwagga Smith also scoring five pointers. The final
score was 46-0.
Cup quarter-final line-up:
09:00: Fiji v France
09:22: England v Scotland
09:44: Australia v Wales
10:06: South Africa v New Zealand
Meanwhile, the SA Rugby Academy got off to a flying start in their Dubai Sevens International Invitational tournament.
Poland with a 52-0 win, with Selvyn Davids scoring a hat-trick in his first
appearance in national colours. The SA side lead 19-0 at the break, but then
totally outplayed the Poles.
Their second match, against Les Bleus Sevens, was a
hard-fought affair. South Africa had to dig deep and won 14-7 to top the pool.
Their final pool match, against Belgium, was another fine
attacking effort, with South Africa winning 34-16. They face Georgia at 11:00
(SA time) in the quarter-finals on Saturday.