Blitzbokke stand up with pride
There was only one way for Paul Treu’s Springbok Sevens side to bounce back from their disappointment of Dubai and that was to win.
And Treu’s troops did just that on day one of the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens here on Saturday, producing three excellent performances to erase the memory of Dubai and put themselves in a strong position going into day two of their home tournament.
The fact that the Blitzbokke were one of only two teams – the other being season surprises Portugal – who were unbeaten after pool play – shows just how competitive the tournaments are at the moment, with Dubai 7s champions Samoa eliminated alongside big teams like England and Samoa.
Even Fiji suffered a shock loss to Scotland on day one, but then recovered to beat defending champs New Zealand in an exceptional display of Sevens style.
But back to the Blitzbokke, who had to overcome the loss of Branco du Preez and captain Kyle Brown before the tournament, and then the withdrawal of Steven Hunt on Thursday.
Even with these setbacks, the added pressure of public expectation in their home tournament and heading a “pool of death” the Blitzbokke went out to set the standard and ensure they were in control of their own destiny.
They will now face the USA in the quarterfinals, with a victory there putting them on a collision course with either Wales or the All Blacks.
Still, there was purpose and pride in the Blitzbok display as they came out and swamped Samoa 29-7 in their opening encounter, with returning former IRB Sevens Player of the year Cecil Afrika providing the extra spark in their attacking play that was sorely missed in Dubai.
From there they went onto a workmanlike 12-5 win over France before beating Australia 17-7 in their final pool game, overcoming all three massive challenges for them on day one to give a boost of confidence going into day two of the competition.
The other quarterfinals will see Wales face New Zealand, Portugal face France and Fiji take on Argentina.
QUARTERFINALS (all times CAT, SA, GMT+2; all games live on SSHD and SS1)
11.11am Australia v Zimbabwe
11.33am Kenya v Scotland
11.55am Canada v Samoa
12.17 England v Spain
12.39pm South Africa v USA
1.01pm Wales v New Zealand
1.23pm Portugal v France
1.45pm Fiji v Argentina