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Rugby | Sevens

Cornal Hendricks © Gallo Images

Blitzbokke sneak into quarters



The Springbok Sevens team bounced back from their horror start at the Wellington Sevens to sneak into the quarterfinals via the back door.

After losing their opening two games of the day, the Blitzbokke produced a real backs-to-the-wall performance and were rock solid in defence, whitewashing Wales 21-0 in their final pool game.

It was a far contrast from their performances against Samoa and Canada, as they fell to defeat and were staring a place in the bowl competition.

But thanks to Samoa’s unbeaten run in the pool, the Blitzbokke entered the final pool game knowing they could secure second place in the pool with at least a nine-point margin of victory over the Welsh – the reigning World Cup Sevens champions.

And it showed in their resolute play, as they tackled everything that moved in a really passionate performance to allow the Welsh no space on attack.

In essence, this wasn’t one of the classic sevens games, but the Blitzbokke moved into the lead at halftime after Frankie Horne finally broke through to score.

But in the second half, the Blitzbokke pressed their advantage home, despite the shrill whistle of the referee, as Stephan Dippenaar scored twice to secure a big victory in terms of character for the side.

It means they will now face Kenya in the quarters, a match they will back themselves in, despite Kenya’s unbeaten run on day one as well.

HORROR START

Earlier the team endured a horror start to their campaign with the two losses.

The Blitzbokke started off well, rushing to a 10-0 lead in their opening game against Samoa, but in an intensely physical match, they couldn’t keep up the pace and let in three second-half tries to go down 19-10 to the Dubai Sevens champions.

Then in their second game, the Blitzbokke lost 26-15 to Canada in a one-sided game where the scoreline flattered the Boks somewhat.

Canada scored from the start as the Blitzbokke couldn’t field the kickoff and led 7-5 at the break, but then with more mistakes and a failure to control the kickoffs in the second half, Canada scored three quick tries to down any chance the Boks had of coming back.

Not even a late score by debutant Seabelo Senatla could help the men in Green and Gold, and only served to make the scoreline look more respectable.

Against Samoa, Philip Snyman and Cornal Hendricks scored the early tries, but it was negated by tries in the second half by Alatasi Tupou, Patrick Faapale and Robert Lilomaiava, with Tupou’s try in particular a sensational display of dazzling footwork.

Against Canada Hendricks and Chris Dry scored, with Senatla’s try being the only other touchdown, while Canada’s tries were scored by Sean Duke(2), Nathan Hirayama and John Moonlight.

In other morning action, hosts New Zealand were shocked by a Matt Turner-inspired England, going down 17-14 as the former UCT player returned to action and made a world of difference to the English side.

The other big shock of the day was Fiji’s exit from the Cup competition after losing to both Scotland and Australia.

Cup Quarterfinals (all times are CAT, SA, GMT+2)

England v Scotland (3.33am)
Samoa v Argentina (3.55am)
Australia v New Zealand (4.17am)
Kenya v South Africa (4.39am)

Bowl Quarterfinals

Spain v Portugal (2am)
Canada v Tonga (2.22am)
Fiji v USA (2.44am)
France v Wales (3.06am)

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