The Blitzboks continued to look like the team to beat in the new World Rugby Sevens Series season with a convincing 29-7 win over Australia in the final match of day one of the Cape Town Sevens last night. and passing gremlins crept into the newly well-oiled machine. The initial opening was made by the number of penalties Australia conceded early on, meaning the hosts could get into their territory.
Once Snyman opened the scoring after the Blitzboks held it together long enough to put the last man away, it was pretty much one-way traffic as tries by Kyle Brown and Cecil Afrika meant they changed halves 17-0 to the good.
The turnaround in fortunes was engineered by typically aggressive work at the breakdown and hardhitting defence, which almost always turned over possession. The Aussies pulled one back through Sam Myers, but another try by Snyman and Ruan Nel made it a comfortable outing for the locals.
Going into today, the question is if flyer Seabelo Senatla, who is playing in his final tournament before joining the Stormers for in the Super Rugby team next year, will break Fabian Juries’ try record for South Africa.
Senatla, who is on 171 career tries and 14 for the new season, needs nine tries to beat Juries’ mark of 179.
With today being the knockout stages of the tournament, the tendency would be to doubt that Senatla will be able to hit the mark, but everything he has done so far has beggared belief.
Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks had largely done what was expected of them in dispatching former Cold War rivals Russia and the US. Thanks to scoring seven tries – two each to the free-scoring Senatla and the indefatigable Werner Kok – they blanked out the plucky but outplayed Russians 41-0 in their first game.
As ever these days, the game against the Americans was more difficult than the final score of 28-10 suggested.
The US were all intensity and urgency at the start, but had none of the execution or accuracy they needed to exploit that early dominance.
While they scored first, two errant passes got South Africa 14-5 up in literally no time, Afrika and Kok being the beneficiary of their spray-gun approach.
Once the Boks warmed to their task by getting their own intensity up, making less mistakes and taking their own chances, that was pretty much the end of that.