NAIROBI – South Africa beat Burundi (61-0), Kenya's Morans (17-12) and Uganda (19-17) on the first day of the Tusker Safari Sevens in Kenya to finish Saturday's opening day undefeated.
They will face local team KCB Rugby on in the Cup quarterfinals at RFUEA Grounds in the Kenyan capital on Sunday. It was a good day in the results column, but a mixed bag in terms of effort for the South Africans, who had four new players in their squad for this outing to East Africa.
Wet conditions later in the day also made it tough for teams to build momentum in phase play, but Springbok Sevens assistant-coach, Renfred Dazel, who is in charge of the team on this trip, offered no excuse for some of their lapses on defence.
"Yes, it was a mixed performance. We can improve by at least 50%, there is no doubt," Dazel said afterwards. "Conditions were not great, but that is no excuse for us. Our kick-offs were poor and the defence had some soft moment. I would like to see more patience on attack as well."
Dazel said there are many positives as well for Day 2.
"We can do so much better in all areas. We play KCB, a local side. Like any Kenyan side, they will be very physical and they will come for us."
Dazel was pleased with the new players and the decision to move Angelo Davids also worked well, he said.
"Angelo did well at hooker and he should kick on tomorrow. The guys new to the squad also did well."
There was a strong start for South Africa against Burundi, and they kept the pressure on the East Africans throughout for a 61-0 win.
Five first-half tries saw them ease into a 33-0 lead and they scored four more in the second half as their opponents battled to get their hands on the ball or defend the strong running lines of Christi Grobbelaar and Impi Visser, both of whom scored a brace. There were tries to first-time representatives Andrew Kota and Cameron Hufke as well.
The second match was a much closer affair. Their opponents, the Morans, have numerous Kenyan internationals in their team and they provided stern opposition.
The Kenyans scored two early tries for a 12-0 lead before Stedman Gans pulled one back for his team on the buzzer for a 12-5 scoreline at the break.
A great run by Siviwe Soyizwapi levelled scores before another fine try by Soyizwapi, converted by Afrika gave his side a 17-12 lead.
The Morans had a chance to score the leveller on the final buzzer, but a great tackle by Visser dislodged the ball from the Kenyan player and the opportunity was lost.
Against Uganda, it was another catch-up affair played in very wet and muddy underfoot conditions.
Uganda scored first, with Grobbelaar striking back immediately. From the restart though, the Ugandans broke through again and only a determined run by Soyizwapi saw him sliding in to level the scores.
The second half started like the first with Uganda scoring in the corner and re-taking a 17-12 lead. The score remained like that till near the end, but Soyizwapi finished a move started by Kota close to his line. Darren Adonis kicked the conversion to hand South Africa the lead and win.