England powered into the Cup semi-finals of the Sydney Sevens after cruising to a 26-5 win over the Blitzboks on Sunday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Ultimately, this quarter-final was won in the opening half as England ran in two early tries, while their suffocating defence and strong breakdown work led to increased frustration for the Blitzboks, who could only muster up one try in the match.
South Africa’s usually reliable defence couldn’t counter England’s aggressive approach initiated by their superior physicality at the breakdown; allowing them front-foot ball on attack and the ability to force multiple turnovers on defence.
To say that the Blitzboks weren’t quite at their best would be an understatement. They offered nothing on attack and hardly troubled England’s line.
Charlton Kerr caught the Blitzboks napping on the short side when he scuttled away for England’s first try. Kerr then turned provider when he set up captain Tom Mitchell for another score a moment later to put England 14 points clear of the disjointed South Africans.
The Blitzboks were dealt a further blow when JC Pretorius was yellow-carded for sticking a foot out in an attempted trip on Dan Bibby just before the break.
A man short and down 14-0, the Blitzboks needed to be the first team to score and they did through Zain Davids, who went direct and flattened a defender as he powered over. However, the South Africans were left chasing shadows after that, quashing any possibility of a fightback.
Tom Mitchell raced clear in search of his second try, but Selvyn Davids made a beautiful cover tackle to deny the England skipper. It was just a temporary reprieve for the Blitzboks as England retained and recycled possession. With Phil Burgess running at him, Justin Geduld drifted off the ball-carrier, opening up a gap for Burgess to glide through and score.
England’s final try by Tom Bowen summed up the Blitzboks’ performance. A South African jumper completely misjudged the kick-off and the ball bounced kindly for Bowen, who danced through the defence at full pace to seal the win for England.
The Blitzboks will now face Spain in a fifth-place semi-final at 6:54am.
Blitzboks will face @Spain7s in the 5 th place semi final at 06:54 SA time. This after they were defeated 26-5 by @EnglandRugby in the cup quarter final of @hsbcsydney7s . @kylegbrown became the highest capped player but it was a performance the team would not be happy with. pic.twitter.com/9919TbPGl2
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) February 3, 2019
Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP Photo