Blitzboks top Pool at Cape Town Sevens

The Blitzboks coach Neil Powell takes his player through their paces.
The Blitzboks coach Neil Powell takes his player through their paces.
Image: Martin Seras Lima

The Blitzboks moved into the Cup quarterfinals at the Cape Town Sevens despite losing to New Zealand in final match on day one of the tournament.

New Zealand scored a try after the final hooter in the day against SA to win 26-21. But SA still topped the Pool to set up a last eight clash against Scotland on Sunday.

New Zealand finished as runners-up and will play Pool D winners Australia in the last eight while Samoa, who also earned seven Pool points, were eliminated.

The Blitzboks looked in imperious form earlier in the day but despite controlling most of the match against New Zealand, the Kiwis scored from turnovers and from deep to sow seeds of doubt for the home team going into the knockout stage.

New Zealand scored two tries from deep in the first half to rock the Blitzboks after they made the near perfect start against their major rivals.

Andrew Knewstubb and Sione Molia broke free from inside their own half, to overturn a 0-7 deficit after the Blitzboks made a strong start to the match.

The home team controlled territory and possession throughout the contest but only had a lone Rosko Specman try to show for their dominance early on and went into the break 14-7 down.

The nippy flyer ghosted through a gap close to the NZ line after some slick build-up play by the Blitzboks, to give the home team the ideal start to a match where several permutations were possible before kick-off.

Samoa, who had beaten NZ earlier in the day, needed a Blitzboks win to advance to the Cup quarterfinals at NZ’s expense.

SA, barring a massive defeat, were through to the last eight anyway, but even so, winning the Pool was not guaranteed.

After the break tries from Werner Kok and Branco du Preez gave SA the lead but NZ did what they always do, and rallied to win with two late tries.

Earlier in the day SA beat Zimbabwe 43-0 and also saw off the dangerous Samoans 22-12 in a physical encounter.

Despite conceding the first try against Samoa when big David Afamasaga scored to silence the nearly 50000 inside the Cape Town Stadium, the Blitzboks remained calm.

Their smothering defence, which was below par in Dubai last week, was back to its best and from breakdown penalties the Blitzboks scored two first half tries through veterans Kyle Brown and Philip Snyman to lead 10-7 at the break.

From another penalty early in the second half, the Blitzboks set up a lineout on the 22-metre line and produced a beautifully constructed try, straight from the training ground. Justin Geduld finished the move.

A further try from replacement Impi Visser ensured the win although Samoa had the final say with a try on fulltime scored by John Vaili.

In other outcomes the USA topped Pool B and will face England in the quarterfinals while Fiji won Pool C and face surprise team Spain in the last eight.

Scorers:

SA

Tries: Rosko Specman, Werner Kok, Branco du Preez. Conversions: Justin Geduld (3).

New Zealand

Tries: Andrew Knewstubb, Sione Molia (2), Vilimono Koroi. Conversions: Knewstubb (2), Koroi.

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