GARETH DUNCAN, reporting from the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, watched the Springbok Sevens enjoy a flawless run on day one of the PE Sevens to create a Cup quarter-final draw against France.
It was a successful start to the tournament for the Blitzboks, who won all their group games and didn’t concede any points as they delivered a strong all-round game. While the crowd diminished during the final hours, mainly because of windy and cold weather, South Africa never lost their form as they showed good form throughout day one.
The most important win was against Australia, which proved to be the Pool C decider. After suffering a last-minute 17-14 defeat to the Aussies in the Plate final at the Dubai Sevens last weekend, South Africa dominated in 26-0 triumph.
The hosts won most of the possession in the first half, but struggled to turn this advantage into points. But returning playmaker Cecil Afrika managed to break the deadlock on the stroke of half-time as he sniped a gap for a 7-0 lead.
Unsung hero Mark Richards then grabbed a second-half brace to help clinch the win for Paul Treu’s charges while Steven Hunt also continued his rich try-scoring form, diving over for his sixth try of the day.
The victory sets up a Cup quarter-final fixture against France on day two. The other top tier play-offs see Samoa tackle Wales, World Series log leaders Fiji face England and unbeaten New Zealand take on rivals Australia.
Earlier in the day, the Springbok Sevens thrashed Kenya 45-0.
To the chants of ‘Kyk hoe wen ons met Cecil!’, the Blitzboks delivered a convincing performance to ease past their African comrades. But while hometown boy Afrika was impressive – it was fellow PE-born speedster Hunt who was the star of the show, scoring four tries thanks to fantastic attacking play from the home team.
Hunt sealed his hat-trick in the first stanza as the Kenyans struggled to restrict the rampant Blitzboks. Afrika also grabbed a try to contribute to the 26-0 half-time lead.
Hunt ran in for his fourth try early after the restart while substitutes Richards and Boom Prinsloo came off the bench to complete the rout.
In their first game, the Springbok Sevens thumped Canada 33-0.
The Blitzboks entered the field to a standing ovation from a 8000-strong crowd, who showed up early on Friday. It seemed to have inpsired the hosts, who surged into a 12-0 lead thanks to tries from Branco du Preez, who dotted down from close range, and Chris Dry, who had an easy run in thanks to a clever chip from Afrika.
South Africa were dealt a blow when Hunt was yellow carded shortly before half-time because of a breakdown infringement. But Canada couldn’t capitalise on their one-man advantage as they struggled to break a strong defence.
Once the Blitboks returned to seven men, they regained the ascendancy. Hunt scored the first points of the second half as South Africa countered off a poor kick from the Canadians. Cornal Hendricks burst through to grab a try on debut while Richards finished off proceedings.
Blitzboks’ fixtures, day one:
South Africa 33 Canada 0
South Africa 45 Kenya 0
South Africa 26 Australia 0