The Springbok Sevens will face Australia in the Wellington Sevens Cup quarterfinals on Saturday morning (SA time) after they finished second in Pool A behind England.
England handed South Africa their first loss since the Dubai final last November when won their pool decider 19-5 at a wet Westpac Stadium in the New Zealand capital. The Springbok Sevens team went through the tournaments in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas unbeaten.
Earlier in the day South Africa defeated Wales 26-0 in their opening game and they later added a second group victory when they won 27-5 against Portugal.
The Springbok Sevens showed great character in Las Vegas to win the USA title two weeks ago, despite injury concerns of a trio of players. Coach Neil Powell now has another injury worry after Stephan Dippenaar limped off with a sore knee halfway through the match against England.
After two very convincing performances against Wales and Portugal, the Springbok Sevens came unstuck against a determined England team who refused to give the South Africans the upper hand at the breakdowns and the much needed space for their dangerous backs.
England were clinical in their ball retention but the Springbok Sevens made some unforced errors, which handed the advantage to their opponents. Jamba Ulengo was unfortunate to knock on with only one man to beat while Dan Norton did just enough to prevent Justin Geduld from opening the scoring after a clever chip and chase.
Two tries by Tom Mitchell and another one by James Rodwell clinched the match for England. Cecil Afrika scored the South Africans’ only try.
South Africa will however be able to take a lot of positives from their two earlier matches against Wales and Portugal.
Sampie Mastriet (2) and Justin Geduld scored three tries amongst themselves to hand the South Africans a 19-0 halftime lead against Wales. Chris Dry then added another score after halftime seal the outcome.
Against a lively Portugal, tries by Frankie Horne and captain Kyle Brown handed the Bok Sevens a 10-0 lead. Jamba Ulengo then crossed the try line twice after halftime while Dry also got on the score sheet. Nuno Guedes dotted down for Portugal.
Powell was not happy with the loss against England, but added he was glad they accomplished their aim for the day: “We weren’t on our best against England and made some unforced errors.
“Credit to England who took their chances and they deserved to win. Our main goal was to qualify for the quarterfinals so tomorrow we will start from scratch,” said Powell.
South Africa is currently leading the HSBC Sevens World Series after five rounds, closely followed by Series champions New Zealand.
The Cup quarterfinal draw for the Wellington Sevens:
England vs Samoa
Canada vs New Zealand
Australia vs South Africa
Fiji vs Argentina
SuperSport will show all the action live on SS1 from 02:00.