CAPE TOWN - HE would’ve been a nervous man at halftime, but Blitzboks assistant coach Renfred Dazel expressed his satisfaction with how his team managed to dispatch Ireland 33-14 in their Tokyo Olympics opener on Monday.
The South Africans sped into a 7-0 lead after three minutes after Zain Davids showed good skill to side-step his way over, but the Blitzboks weren’t able to convert further opportunities into points until just before the break.
The lack of finishing was probably down to the haphazard preparation, following a highly disrupted time since arriving in Japan due to Covid-19 protocols, while head coach Neil Powell also tested positive and is in isolation in Kagoshima at the moment.
That was when Justin Geduld used his left boot for a cross-kick that found Impi Visser, who had enough strength to dot the ball down under pressure from the Irish defence.
Then their opponents hit back through a flurry of phases that the Blitzboks did well to hold out, but eventually, Gavin Mullin crossed the tryline.
Despite Geduld’s own five-pointer after halftime took the score to 21-7, the Irish never gave up, and Terry Kennedy replied to make it a tight encounter at 21-14.
But the South Africans played with better cohesion in the closing minutes, with Chris Dry and Stedman Gans’ touchdowns securing the 33-14 triumph.
“We focused for a month on this first game, and we had proper plans in place. One or two that didn’t come off, but that’s going to happen in your first game,” Dazel said on a video posted on the Blitzboks’ social media accounts.
“We haven’t played such competition in a long time, and I think the guys stuck to their guns, and they really played well and managed to play our game plan.”
Davids couldn’t stop smiling about scoring the opening try for South Africa at the Olympics. “I think it’s a team effort. We kept on working and keeping the ball, so it created the space for me to score.”
The Bok Sevens are next in action against Kenya at 12pm SA time on Monday, with their final Pool C clash against the United States on Tuesday (4.30am) ahead of the quarter-finals on the same day.
South Africa 33 – Tries: Zain Davids, Impi Visser, Justin Geduld, Chris Dry, Stedman Gans. Conversions: Selvyn Davids (4).
Ireland 14 – Tries: Gavin Mullin, Terry Kennedy. Conversions: Billy Dardis (2).