JOHANNESBURG - Defending champions the Blitzboks sent out a warning to the other teams as they powered their way into Saturday’s quarter-finals with three resounding wins on day one of the Dubai Sevens on Friday.
Winners in the Emirates a year ago as well, Neil Powell’s men swept past Uganda, Kenya and Canada to secure their place among the elite teams in the Cup quarter-finals.
Led by former world sevens player of the year Werner Kok, who was in sublime form throughout day one, and with speedster Seabelo Senatla dazzling out wide and in open space, the Blitzboks showed they will be hard to beat this weekend.
Powell’s men wrapped up the first day with an emphatic 28-0 win against Canada on Friday evening, with Branco du Preez, Cecil Afrika, Kwagga Smith and Kok touching down. The North Americans never got close to crossing the whitewash.
It was, however, the South Africans’ second game of the day, against unpredictable and tricky Kenya, that Powell’s men really hit top form.
They ran in eight tries and 48 unanswered points after going down 5-0 early in their game to register one of the performances of the day. Senatla bagged a hat-trick of tries as the Blitzboks ran the East Africans ragged.
Afrika, Du Preez, Smith, Justin Geduld and Rosko Specman also crossed for tries against their fellow Africans.
The South Africans, who won five tournaments in the World Series last year as they swept to the title, started their challenge early on Friday with a workmanlike performance against Uganda.
The Blitzboks were full of rust after a long off-season and battled with handling and execution, but a 14-0 halftime lead after tries by Ruhan Nel and Philip Snyman sent them on their way.
Tim Agaba added a third after the break, while the Ugandans scored through Solomon Okia and Philip Wokorach to make it a 19-10 win for the defending champions.
South Africa will face Samoa in Saturday’s Cup quarter-finals.