Cape Town - The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday topped pool A of the HSBC Vancouver Sevens and will face hosts Canada in the Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
Wins over Chile and Kenya earned the passage into the last eight and a draw against England confirmed the top spot due to a better points' difference to the South Africans.
This is the sixth consecutive Cup quarte-rfinal reached by the Blitzboks since the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicked off the 2016/17 season in Dubai.
The team had to dig deep to remain unbeaten on their North American trip though and had to defend for all their worth in their final pool match against England. The match finished in a 12-all draw.
The leading tackler in the World Series, Chris Dry, said their performances on Day One, especially against England, were not their best. "We made it very difficult for ourselves by not controlling the ball and England punished us for that. We scrambled very well at the end and credit to the guys for that. England is a difficult side to defend against, as they can score from anywhere. Us giving so much ball away helped them in their attack," Dry said.
"We are pleased to finish top of the pool as that was the first goal for the day. That creates some momentum going into day two. No doubt, tomorrow will be another tough one. Canada will be pumped up, playing in front of this great crowd in this great stadium."
The team knows what needs to be done, he believes.
"The key for us will be discipline and controlling the ball against them. If we control the ball, we will score points. Poor discipline also hampered us today and need to sort that out come tomorrow," Dry said.
South Africa were the most penalised team on Day One, conceding 14 penalties and only awarded six.
Dan Norton opened the scoring for England early in the first half, before Rosko Specman ran 50 meters to score in the corner. Cecil Afrika converted for a 7-5 lead at the break. Dylan Sage scored early in the second half to extend the Blitzboks lead to 12-5.
Sage's effort was countered by a second Norton try late in the second half, which was also converted. This left both teams in search of the win, but good defence confirmed the result.
Earlier in the day, Specman, who also made the most tackles for the team (12) and Ruhan Nel scored first half tries against Kenya, giving the Blitzboks a 10-lead at the break. Kenya did cut the deficit with a try of their own, but a try by Dry confirmed the 15-5 win.
The Blitzboks beat Chile 33-0 in their opening game after leading 14-0 at half-time. They ran in five tries, with Philip Snyman, Sage (2), Siviwe Soyizwapi and Dry all adding to their career tally. Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez added two conversions apiece.
Du Preez has kicked 83 conversions already his season, but admits that it was hard work out there.
"Scoring was not easy today, we had to work hard for all our points,” said Du Preez. "England is a tough opponent, but we know our system works for us and if we stick to it, we will be successful."