Blitzboks in two narrow wins, lose to USA in London
May 20, 2017
The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday suffered a 24-12 defeat to the USA in pool A of the HSBC London Sevens tournament, but still achieved close wins over Kenya and Wales to progress to the Cup quarterfinals of the tournament, played at Twickenham Stadium.

South Africa have made all ten Cup quarterfinals in the 2016/17 series on route to the overall title, secured last weekend in Paris.

They will face England in the last eight on Sunday. South Africa has played England 71 times, winning 36 and losing 34, with an average score of 16-15 in their favour. England won the last encounter between the two sides, in Singapore last month 17-12. The last time they met at Twickenham, in 2013, England won 19-14.

Springbok Sevens winger, Ruhan Nel, said the match against England will be a tough one.

"They are always a formidable opponent and playing them at home will not make it any easier. I know how much we are lifted when we play in front of our fans in Cape Town, so can only imagine they will feel the same tomorrow." The Blitzboks achieved their immediate objective as well, so Nel was pleased about that.

"We did want we wanted to do and that is to qualify for Cup play on Day Two. That was first prize as we are in still in a position to win the tournament and if we stick to what we do well, we should be competitive,” he said.

Nel, who scored two tries as well, was pretty pleased about his century of appearances.

"It is already an honour to play for your country, so to play in a 100 matches is an even better feeling, I am truly humbled, but also proud. The fact that we won the match made it even better," Nel said.

The Blitzboks scored close 12-10 wins over both Kenya and Wales in their opening two matches. In both matches, the opponents had the opportunity to draw the match with the final kick of play, but both times the conversions went wide and South Africa could walk away victorious.

In the opening match against Kenya, tries by Nel and Rosko Specman and a crucial conversion by Cecil Afrika secured the win. Against Wales, tries by Specman and Philip Snyman and the conversion by Branco du Preez confirmed qualification into the Cup quarters.

The USA still had to beat South Africa to secure their entry and that showed, as they played with more urgency in a match they needed to win.

South Africa scored tries via Nel and Siviwe Soyizwapi, with Afrika converting one, but two late tries by the USA pushed them past South Africa and to the top of the pool.

The Blitzboks conceded eight tries on Day One and scored only six and this is something they will be keen to improve on, admitted Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman.

"We pride ourselves on our defence and this was not our best effort on day one. Credit to all our opponents as well, we had three really tough matches today," he said.

"At least we are in still in the race and will come back tomorrow with a positive mind-set. We will have to play very well though. England will be pumped in front of their home crowd, but that will not deter us. We know what we are capable of when we follow our processes and that is exactly what we will be trying to do tomorrow.”


•Ruhan Nel played his 100th match for the Blitzboks when he took the field against Wales
•Cecil Afrika extended his all-time career points-scoring record to 1277 points

The Cup quarterfinals are: (SA time)

11h58 USA vs Australia
12h20 New Zealand vs Scotland
12h42 England vs South Africa
13h04 Argentina vs Canada

HSBC Sevens World Series Singapore
Saturday, April 28 2018
05:00 - Scotland vs Australia
05:22 - New Zealand vs Wales
05:44 - Argentina vs Canada
06:06 - South Africa vs Samoa
06:30 - USA vs France
06:52 - Kenya vs England
07:14 - Spain vs Russia
07:36 - Fiji vs Japan
08:28 - Scotland vs Wales

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