- Senatla grabs five and Habana opens World Series try tally
- SA, NZ, Kenya, and Australia into last eight
Springbok Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla scored five times and Springbok wing Bryan Habana opened his HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tally as the South Africans got their Las Vegas Sevens campaign off to an impressive start on Saturday morning (SA time).
The Blitzboks have a good track record in the desert city and have won the Las Vegas Sevens title three times in the past five years. On Saturday they opened their bid for another title with a 33-7 victory over Canada. That win was followed by an even better performance against Wales, a 36-7 victory after the Welsh had scored inside the first minute of play.
Their results on Saturday mean that South Africa, New Zealand, Kenya and Australia have all secured their places in the last eight of the competition.
Leading World Series try scorer Senatla dotted down twice against Canada and then netted a hat-trick against Wales to stretch his season total to 30.Springbok wing Bryan Habana opened his World Series tally with a typical clinical finish and his first touch of the ball, after he was sent on as a second half replacement against Canada. It was his first appearance in a Springbok Sevens jersey following his debut twelve years ago.
The South Africans scored 11 tries and conceded only twice in their two matches of the opening day, and with their final pools match to come against the hosts, USA, on Sundaymorning (SA time), the Springbok Sevens have already secured their place in the Cup quarterfinals.
Returning Springbok Sevens skipper, Kyle Brown, said he was pleased with his side’s performance on match day one of the three-day tournament: “We showed a lot of energy and commitment out there and we really made our scoring opportunities count for us. Our defensive effort was good but there is still plenty of room for improvement,” cautioned Brown, who made his return to the side after missing the previous two tournaments in Wellington and Sydney.
Senatla (2), Justin Geduld and Ruhan Nel all dotted won as the Springbok Sevens race into a 26-0 halftime lead against Canada. Habana, holder of the Springbok record for the most Test tries, then displayed his finishing prowess to score his first World Series try after pouncing on a Cecil Afrika kick. Phil Mack scored a consolation try for the Canadians.
Senatla (2) and Geduld were again the scorers as the South Africans recovered from seven points down to lead 17-7 at the break, after Ethan Davies had scored for Wales earlier on.
Senatla completed his hat-trick early in the second half and he was followed over the try line by Geduld and Branco du Preez, who celebrated his first World Series action since May last year with a well-taken try as the South Africans clinched a well-deserved 36-7 win over Wales.
Las Vegas Sevens statistics after match day one:
Top point scorers
- Justin Geduld (SA), 25
- Seabelo Senatla (SA) 25
- Isake Katonibau (Fiji) 20
Leading try scorers:
- Seabelo Senatla (SA) 5
- Isake Katonibau (Fiji) 4
- Kurt Baker (NZ) 3
- New Zealand 12
- South Africa 11
- Kenya 10
- Fiji 10
Sunday 6 March (remaining Pool D fixture):
00h30 South Africa v USA
The Springbok Sevens squad for the Las Vegas tournament (all SA Rugby contracted, unless stipulated):
- Chris Dry (48 World Series tournaments)
- Dylan Sage (3)
- Tim Agaba (1)
- Kwagga Smith (19)
- Bryan Habana (2, Toulon, France)
- Kyle Brown (50, captain)
- Branco du Preez (41)
- Rosko Specman (9)
- Justin Geduld (21)
- Cecil Afrika (39)
- Seabelo Senatla (23)
- Ruhan Nel (6)