Blitzboks into Hong Kong quarter-finals
South Africa advanced to through to the Cup quarterfinals of the Hong Kong Sevens despite suffering a close 10-7 upset defeat against Australia in their final Pool B match on Saturday.
The Springboks Sevens will now play England in the quarterfinals at 5.50am on Sunday morning. South Africa are currently leading the HSBC Sevens World Series standings by a narrow margin over New Zealand after reaching five consecutive Sevens World Series Cup Finals this season.
Earlier on Saturday morning, the South Africans beat Spain 22-14 after a late rally by the Spaniards. The Blitzboks raced into a deserved 22-0 lead but conceded two late tries while Stephan Dippenaar was in the sin-bin for foul play.
The team decided not to risk with captain, Kyle Brown, after he sustained a blow to the head on Friday evening against France, although he was cleared to play immediately afterwards. Brown did not play in Saturday’s two pool matches and will now also sit out Sunday’s action.
There is also concern over the fitness of Cecil Afrika who hobbled off the field with a leg injury shortly after he had come on as a second half replacement.
Australia played a very good tactical game and pecked South Africa in their own half with some clever kicks and resolute defence. Furthermore, the Blitzboks made life difficult for themselves with uncharacteristic handling errors at crucial times.
The heavy rain that fell during the morning in Hong Kong delayed the start of match day two and the resultant heavy underfoot conditions and slippery ball made the handling of the ball very difficult at times.
Greg Jeloudev opened the scoring for the young Australians team and he was followed by his captain Ed Jenkins who doubled the score just 30 seconds before halftime when he latched onto a kick. Australia led 10-0 at halftime.
Afrika was then sent on as replacement in the second half as South Africa struggled to break the defensive grip of their opponents. However, his stay on the field was short lived when he hobbled to the sidelines again with a leg injury.
Speedy wing Seabelo Senatla gave South Africa a glimmer of hope when he raced through to score his fifth try of the tournament to close the gap to 10-7. Australia then collected the restart and kicked the ball into touch to end the match in their favour.
Senatla also scored the first two tries for the Springbok Sevens in their earlier match against Spain. Frankie Horne added his name to the score sheet as SA raced to halftime lead of 17-0. Afrika dotted down the fourth South African try to stretch the advantage to 22-0, before Spain rallied back with two tries after Dippenaar was showed yellow.
The Cup quarterfinal draw at the Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday (Live on SS, SA times):
05h28 Fiji vs USA
05h50 England vs South Africa
06h12 New Zealand vs Wales
06h34 Australia vs Canada