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Rugby | Sevens

Tim Agaba © Gallo Images

Blitzboks to face Samoa in quarters



The Springbok Sevens team took an important step towards the overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title in Paris on Saturday, qualifying for a ninth consecutive Cup quarterfinals spot in the 2016/17 series.

They will face Samoa in the last eight of the HSBC Paris Sevens, the same opponent who knocked them out of contention at the same stage of last year's tournament.

South Africa have won 42 of 68 matches played between the two countries with an average 18-14 winning margin. This will be the first time they meet Samoa in the current series.

South Africa lead their nearest contender for the overall title, defending champions Fiji, by 25 points with one tournament left, and by reaching the Cup quarters kept their stronghold on the grip they have established in their title run, which included four tournaments win and seven consecutive finals played.

The Blitzboks recovered very well from an early loss against Scotland in their opening clash in the Stade Jean Bouin, scoring 66 points in the following matches against Japan and Canada, with the last one a crucial one to go into the Cup competition.

Scotland earlier beat Canada as well to top the pool and only the winner of the South Africa/Canada match would progress into the last eight.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell was pretty happy with the fire in the belly shown by his team after the unexpected defeat against Scotland.

"We knew Canada was a very important game for us, not only for this tournament, but in the context of the series.

The guys went out there and fought hard, as we really wanted this result. They knew a draw or loss would put us out of the Cup competition, so really went out there to rectify the mistakes from that opening game against Scotland. We were disappointed about that first one."

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Powell was full of praise for Samoa, who finished the day undefeated.

"Samoa will be physical. We lost against them in last year at the same stage, hopefully we can change the result."

South Africa scored 31 unanswered points against Canada, who won the previous World Series tournament in Singapore.

Chris Dry, playing in his 61 tournament, scored a hat-trick of tries in a strong second-half showing, while Werner Kok was the strong player in the opening seven minutes, scoring two great tries after Dry opened the account.

Dry, Kok and Siviwe Soyizwapi all scored three tries on Day One.

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Earlier, South Africa outplayed Japan 35-5 in their second match of the opening day. A brace of tries by Soyizwapi and Cecil Afrika and a try by Kok, helped the Blitzboks to the win, an important one as they picked the needed momentum for the rest of the day.

Afrika finished as the leading points scorer for the team on the day, contributing 18 points. At the same time, he extended his overall career point's record for South Africa to 1 264.

Earlier, the Springbok Sevens team suffered a first defeat at the hands of Scotland in the 2016/17 season of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series as they dropped a 19-12 result in the opening match in Paris.

The South African team has only lost to England, Fiji and Australia so far in the first eight tournaments of the series, but found Scotland more urgent and efficient on attack.

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Philip Snyman got the first try, his 50th in his career to give South Africa a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes, but then Scotland scored twice, the second just before the break with South Africa strong on the attack, but spilling the ball.

Afrika was sin-binned early in the second half and when Scotland scored again to take a 19-5 lead, the match slipped out of South Africa's gasp. A late try by Soyizwapi proved too little too late.

The Cup quarters on Sunday are:

10:28am: Scotland v Fiji
10:50am: England v USA
11:12am: Samoa v South Africa
11:34am: New Zealand v France



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