The Springbok Sevens team opened the 2019/2020 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in perfect fashion by claiming the opening tournament of 10 at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on Saturday.
They outplayed New Zealand 15-0 in a pulsating final of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, which saw them winning the title for a seventh time – a result that had Neil Powell smiling.
The Blitzboks held a 5-0 lead at the break after Siviwe Soyizwapi finally managed to break down the New Zealand defence in the final play of the half. Before that, both Chris Dry and Zain Davids came close to getting the first points, with Dry losing the ball over the line and Davids held up after going over.
The second half was more of the same, with both teams attacking to get the crucial try. That belonged to Dry, who found himself on the wing and in open space.
Trailing by 10 points and with time running out, New Zealand’s hand was forced and when they spilled the bal, Seabelo Senatla kicked ahead, regathered and scored what proved to be the final nail in NZ’s coffin.
Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks outplayed Samoa by 38-7 in the semi-final.
The match against Samoa was a tight affair in the opening minutes. The Pacific Islanders kept the ball from the kick-off and were rewarded for their patience on attack when Paul Scanlan scored under the sticks. Tomasi Alosio converted to give the men in blue an early lead.
Six tries by the rampant South Africans followed though – three in the first half to hand them a 19-7 lead at the break, and three in the second, as the Blitzboks eased away from the Samoans.
The first of the Blitzboks’ tries came from Zain Davids, who left numerous Samoans in his wake after a bulldozing run to the line. Justin Geduld slotted the conversion to level the scores.
The Blitzboks were back at it soon after as Rosko Specman took a quick-tap penalty and after some good passing, Chris Dry found the space to score his 95th try of his career.
Dry instigated the next try. He won the aerial battle from the kick-off, Ryan Oosthuizen ran strongly and when the ball was moved wide, Siviwe Soyizwapi ran in unopposed. The conversion was good and the Blitzboks took a comfortable lead at the break.
The second half saw the customary introduction of the bench. Seabelo Senatla first off-loaded for Ruhan Nel to score, before the winger dotted down for his 226th Blitzbok five-pointer, extending his national try-scoring record.
Selvyn Davids also made merry when he grabbed a spilled Samoan ball, kicked ahead, outpaced the cover defence and scored, to make the score line a commanding 38-7.
Earlier, New Zealand beat England 19-12 to make it into the final.
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And in their first match on the final day, the Springbok Sevens side scored two first half tries and then defended strongly to secure a 12-5 win over Argentina in the Cup quarter-finals of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.
The Blitzboks started well against Argentina, who yesterday knocked over Fiji. A sustained attack, with numerous phases and good support play saw Justin Geduld over in the corner after two minutes.
The match, with Argentina bringing a very physical approach, went to and fro as both sides probed for weaknesses. A try by Rosko Specman, in the sixth minute, proved to be the game-changer.
Argentina forced an attacking line-out near the Blitzbok line, but they fluffed the throw-in and were penalised for holding onto the ball in a tackle. Ryan Oosthuizen seized the moment – he tapped and set off, finding Geduld who found a flying Specman on the outside. The talisman ran 70 meters to score under the posts for a well-deserved half-time lead.
The second half was equally tight with defences holding sway. It was Argentina though who broke the deadlock in the 10th minute with a well-worked try.
The Blitzboks defended their seven-point lead till the very end though, with a crucial turn-over won by Dylan Sage in the final play allowing them to kick for touch and a place in the final four of the tournament.
South Africa 15 (5), New Zealand 0 (0)
South Africa – Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi, Chris Dry, Seabelo Senatla.
South Africa 38 (19), Samoa 7 (7)
South Africa – Tries: Zain Davids, Chris Dry, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Selvyn Davids. Conversions: Justin Geduld (2), Davids (2).
Samoa – Try: Paul Scanlan. Conversion: Tomasi Alosio.
South Africa 12 (7), Argentina 5 (0)
South Africa – Tries: Justin Geduld, Rosko Specman. Conversion: Geduld.
Argentina – Try: Matias Osadczuk.