The Springbok Sevens will square up against England in the cup quarter-finals after topping Pool D on day one at the George Sevens.
Head coach Paul Treu will be delighted with his team’s performances on Friday as they finished undefeated with wins over Portugal, Zimbabwe and Argentina at Outeniqua Park. While they were inconsistent in Dubai last weekend, South Africa managed to impress in all three games. Their win over Zimbabwe was marred by fatigue at the death, but overall it was big step up from their display in the Middle East.
Treu said on Thursday that his team needed to beef up on defence, run the right channels and concede less penalties in order to be consistent. Mission accomplished. Although it was against easy opposition, it will be a big confidence booster for his players heading into a tough day two on Saturday, when the real challenge begins.
They will face Dubai champions England on day two after the latter finished second in Pool C. Defeat will turn the Blitzboks’ campaign into failure while a win will give them hope of achieving only their second tournament title on home soil in 11 seasons. South Africa will need to build on the momentum they gained on day one and maintain their consistency. If not, they will lose and will have to compete in the plate section – the second tier of competition in the tournament.
Against Argentina in their final Pool D fixture, the Blitzboks recorded a 29-5 win.
The hosts gained ascendancy early in the match as they surged into a 10-0 lead as Paul Delport and Sibusiso Sithole dived over. Argentina were reduced to six men before Bernado Botha scored the last try before the break to see South Africa lead 17-0 at half-time.
When Sithole completed his brace and Kyle Brown bashed through for the Blitzboks’ fifth try, the game was sealed. Argentina managed to add respectability to the score with a try in the dying seconds.
In their second group fixture, the Springbok Sevens cruised to a 33-7 win over Zimbabwe.
The Blitzboks didn’t receive much of a challenge from their southern African neighbours, who were dominated in all facets of play. South Africa, however, looked scrappy on attack at times, especially at the death. A more polished performance will be needed against stronger opposition on day two.
Despite coming off early in the second stanza, Cecil Afrika was the star of the match as he scored 18 points while he also played a play-maker’s role at first receiver by setting up scoring opportunities for his team-mates through sniping runs and accurate passes.
South Africa built a commanding lead early in the match as Afrika dotted down twice and Peter Engelbrecht dived over. Zimbabwe managed to score their only try against the run of play thanks to a knock-on from the Blitzboks’ in the former’s red zone. The half-time score read 21-7.
The Blitzboks sealed the game with two tries after the restart as Afrika put Bernado Botha and Franki Horn through for the defining scores. The match ended on a sour note as play became erratic at the death because of fatigue.
In their opening match, the Springbok Sevens scored six tries in their 38-0 win over Portugal.
Kyle Brown grabbed a brace while Bernado Botha, Cecil Afrika, Pieter Engelbrecht and Steven Hunt crossed the chalk in a convincing display over the European minnows. The Blitzboks also impressed on defence and starved Portugal of possession as they ruled the breakdown.
Botha opened the scoring after finishing off a good set-piece move, while Brown, Afrika and Engelbrecht dotted down for a 26-0 lead at the break.
The Blitzboks only managed two more tries in the second half through Brown and Hunt. Portugal had an opportunity to score a consolation try at the death, but South Africa’s cover defence forced play into touch to end the match.
In other results, New Zealand won all three of their group games, including a 20-7 win over England, to top Pool C. Wales and Fiji also finished first in their respective pools while Australia and Samoa also qualified for the Cup quarter-finals.
SA 38 Portugal 0
SA 33 Zimbabwe 7
SA 29 Argentina 5
For all fixtures and results click here