South Africa started Day1 of the Tokyo Sevens well seeing off the challenge of Scotland (14 – 0) and Portugal (12 – 7) in their first two Pool matches.
However, the Blitzbokke lost their Pool D decider (38-7) against Samoa in the ultimate match on day one which was played in difficult underfoot conditions. The temperature at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium also plummeted during the day with the mercury hovering in the late single-digits as the sun set over Tokyo.
Samoa’s comprehensive victory allowed them to finish first on the pools log and they will now face Fiji on Sunday in the quarters. Fiji lost 14-7 to England in the last match of the day.
South Africa struggled from the kick-off to get their hands on the ball and the physical Samoans hardly allowed the Blitzbokke to move out of their half. William Small-Smith scored South Africa’s consolation try in the second half after Samoa led 24-0 at the break.
Tries by captain Kyle Brown and Cornal Hendricks gave South Africa a hard-fought 14-0 opening win against Scotland.
Portugal showed real determination against the Blitzbokke, and the South Africans were made to fought all the way for their second win of the day (12-7).
Hendricks, maintaining his fine form he showed in Hong Kong last week where he scored five times, dotted down for his team’s first score. Branco du Preez made it 12-0 with a few minutes to go in the second half.
However, Portugal refused to give up and they were eventually rewarded when Goncalo Foro scored near the posts, thereby setting up a nervous end to the match.
Paul Treu, the Springbok Sevens coach, said his team did well to win two of their three matches in difficult conditions.
“The knock-out phase reward the teams who take their chances and we must make sure we take ours against a very strong England tomorrow. The conditions were tough and we did well to grind out victories over Scotland and Portugal. I shuffled the team a bit for our last match and we must now make sure we are fresh and ready for the quarterfinals,” said Treu.
South Africa will have to overcome England on Sunday to reach the Cup semi-finals of the Japan Sevens in Tokyo.
The Cup quarterfinal draw for the Japan Sevens:
England vs. South Africa
Wales vs. Australia
Samoa vs. Fiji
New Zealand vs. Argentina
Surprisingly, the Blitzbokke enjoyed good local support and quite a number of Bok-jerseys could be seen in the stands. BlitzBokke.com captured some of the fans on Day 1:
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