Sevens

Relief for Powell as Blitzboks reach quarters

2018-03-03 10:01
Neil Powell (Gallo Images)

Las Vegas - The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday made it into their fifth consecutive Cup quarter-final of the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series.

The Blitzboks defeated Wales 26-21 and Canada 19-12 in pool B of the USA Sevens tournament.

They still play England in the pool decider early Sunday morning (00:10 SA time) in the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, but cannot finish lower than second in the pool.

Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, said afterwards that he was pleased with the results, although the wins did not come as easy as was expected by the team’s supporters.

“They are two very good teams, make no mistake. I was happy with the way we came back from being 14-0 down against Wales, the guys showed good composure. That is the type of mental toughness we want from the players.”

Against Wales, the Blitzboks conceded two early tries to trail 14-0, but struck back with three unanswered tries in quick succession to end the first half with a 21-14 lead.

The Welsh scored soon after the second half restart to draw level and a late try by Siviwe Soyizwapi, his second of the match, sealed the deal.

Werner Kok received a blow to the jaw against Wales and could not continue. Ruhan Nel, the official replacement player in the squad, replaced him.

“It is always bad if you lose a quality player like Werner, but luckily Ruhan could step in. We actually named Ruhan as replacement because he is still recovering from that knee injury, but he came through the match nicely.

The Springbok Sevens side ran in three tries to beat the Canadians 19-12, having led 14-5 at the break. Dylan Sage scored late to confirm the win.

“We are one game away from our first objective and that is to top the pool. We will focus on that and then see what the quarters hold for us,” Powell added.

Scorers:

SA v Canada: Tries: Sivive Soyizwapi, Cecil Afrika, Dylan Sage. Conversions: Branco du Preez (2)
SA v Wales: Sivive Soyizwapi (2), Dylan Sage, Branco du Preez. Conversions: Du Preez (3)

Stats notes:

- Cecil Afrika extended his overall points' scoring record for the Blitzboks in the World Series to 1373.
 - Branco du Preez extended his Blitzboks record for conversions kicked to 355.

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