Blitzboks to face Kenya in HSBC Sydney Sevens Cup quarters
The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday scored two impressive victories over Spain (38-0) and England (33-12) to secure top spot in pool C of the HSBC Sydney Sevens and will meet Kenya in the Cup quarterfinals on Sunday. The Blitzboks opened their account with a 50-0 win against Papua New Guinea at the Allianz Stadium on Friday already, when the third tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicked off.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was satisfied following his side’s performances, which saw them scoring tries and only conceding two.
“We always aim to top the pool, but the way we do it is also important. The execution was good and we had two good performances out there today. The guys implemented well today,” said Powell.
The fact that they kept England in particular under pressure with a good defensive effort also pleased the coach.
“We pride ourselves on our defence. We did well today. We did concede tries, but that happens.”
Powell was clear about what needed to be done on Sunday. Kenya will be the first hurdle towards the successful defence of the title they won here last year.
“We need to fix one or two things as we were not sharp in all areas, like line-outs. In quarterfinals you cannot afford to make a mistake, so it will be important for us to make another step-up on Sunday.”
Rosko Specman, who scored a quick brace against Spain, left the field just before half-time of that match after an ankle strain and did not play again.
“We decided to pull him from the field and will see how he feels in the morning. We will do a proper medical and hopefully he will be fit to play,” explained Powell.
Against Spain, two early tries by Specman set the tone. Ruhan Nel, Justin Geduld, Seabelo Senatla and Dylan Sage also scored, with Geduld converting four of those.
In their match against England, the Blitzboks conceded a try in the opening minute, but tries by Senatla, Cecil Afrika and Geduld regained the lead at the break. Geduld scored soon after the restart for a 28-7 lead and although England managed another try, a second by Senatla confirmed the win. Geduld also kicked four conversions.
Meanwhile, Afrika moved into fourth spot on the all-time World Series points scoring list. The player is already the leading South African points’ scorer of all time in sevens rugby and has now extended his tally to 1437 points. That moved him past Colin Gregor of Scotland (1345) on the world list as well.
“I did not even know that,” Afrika said afterwards. “It is a great achievement for me. My career had its ups and downs, so to be fourth on the overall list is really satisfying for me. Obviously, I am happy with my contribution today. The important thing is that we need to follow that up with a similar performance on Sunday.”
The Cup quarterfinals are: (SA time)
02h28: USA v Fiji
02h50: South Africa vs Kenya
03h12: New Zealand v Australia
03h34: Argentina v England