The Blitzboks advanced to the Cup quarter-finals of the Hamilton Sevens after securing an emphatic 28-7 win over England on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
As was the case in Sydney last weekend, South Africa and England were fighting it out to finish top of the Pool B standings after both teams claimed comprehensive victories over Papua Papua New Guinea and Russia earlier on day one.
England enjoyed a better start, but their promising attack was easily repelled by the Blitzboks’ stonewall defence. As England moved inside the 22, Rosko Specman made a vital tackle and Tim Agaba was over the ball quickly to win a turnover penalty.
Instead of the quick tap, the Blitzboks set a lineout and from the set piece, the ball went through the hands before Agaba finished off in the left-hand corner.
England had no answer to the Blitzboks’ accuracy at the breakdown or their pinpoint kick restarts. That enabled Seabelo Senatla to score a quick-fire brace and with Justin Geduld expertly landing all three touchline conversion attempts, the Blitzboks sped out to a 21-0 lead at the midway mark.
It was much of the same in the second half, with the Blitzboks dominating the breakdown and pinning England back in their own half.
South Africa’s final try came after a solid run by Dylan Sage down the touchline. He was hauled in, but with England’s defence still backtracking, Geduld put in a well-weighted kick over the top for Specman to run on to and score under the posts.
Unfortunately, Sage stayed down and replays confirmed he went to ground head first after a no-arms tackle. England conceded a yellow card and play was delayed while Sage received treatment. Much to the relief of his teammates and the coaching staff, Sage eventually got up to his feet to walk off the field, a clear indication that the head injury was not as serious as first thought.
With the result all but wrapped up and several rotational changes made, the Blitzboks switched off momentarily, which allowed Dan Norton to sprint away to score. But it would have come as little consolation for England, who now have to face hosts New Zealand in the quarters.
South Africa’s quarter-final clash will be against Scotland on Sunday (02:42 SA time).
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