Blitzboks ready for last-eight battle
While Springbok Sevens assistant coach Renfred Dazel says quarter-final matches are always tough when a tournament is played over three days, he says they have a good idea of what to expect from Argentina, who they’ll meet in the last-eight battle in Dubai on Saturday.
The Blitzboks secured their play-off spot after going through the pool stages of the opening leg of the 2019/20 World Sevens Series unbeaten.
They went top of Pool D after scoring 19 unanswered points against England in their final pool game on Friday – an encounter the South Africans won 19-14.
The Blitzboks were down 14-0 against England halfway through the first half but managed to fight back, despite being one man down after Ruhan Nel was yellow-carded, which saw Ollie Lindsay-Hague and Dan Norton score converted tries.
“The time between matches are match longer now that we share the tournament with the women's series and that is something new for us,” said Dazel.
“Quarter-finals are always tough in a three-day tournament, so we need to recover well tonight to be ready for Argentina in the morning. We have a good idea what to expect from them, but the focus will be on what we want to do and how we want to play.”
On the opening day of the Dubai Sevens, they didn’t respect the ball, said Blitzboks chief Neil Powell after somewhat of a scare against Kenya. On Day Two, though, nobody could accuse the South Africans of not holding the oval in high-enough regard.
The Blitzboks put up a determined show against Spain in their first match of the day on Friday, before going up against England, schooling them 35-5 after tries by captain Siviwe Soyizwapi, Chris Dry, JC Pretorius and a brace by Rosko Specman.
Although they started on the back foot as the Spaniards did a lot of the playing in the early minutes, the Blitzboks made sure to show their class as the game progressed, converting a 14-0 half-time lead into a 30-point winning margin.
Spain managed to cross the line later in the game when Pol Pla pulling scored the kind of try we’ve come to see quite often from the Spanish, but the Blitzboks hit back twice after that to deservingly have the last say.
Dazel applauded that effort and said they improved from the first day: “We are pleased with the effort. We had much better shoulders on bodies with our defence and that was pleasing.”
Meanwhile, the Academy side will face the Apache, an invitational team from England, in the quarter-finals of the International Invitational Tournament on Saturday.
In their final pool game, they dismantled the Russia Development side on Friday, whipping them 47-0, after also outperforming the Rambling Jesters and French Military on Thursday.
Scorers, Day Two:
South Africa 19 (5), England 14 (14)
South Africa – Tries: Justin Geduld (2), Ryan Oosthuizen. Conversions: Selvyn Davids (2).
England – Tries: Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Dan Norton. Conversions: Dan Bibby (2).
South Africa 35 (14), Spain 5 (0)
South Africa – Tries: Rosko Specman (2), Chris Dry, Siviwe Soyizwapi, JC Pretorius. Conversions: Justin Geduld (2), Selvyn Davids (3).
Spain – Try: Pol Pla.
Quarter-final Fixtures (SA times):
09.14: England v France
09.36: New Zealand v USA
09.58: South Africa v Argentina
10.20: Australia v Samoa@WynonaLouw