The South African sevens team outplayed fellow World Series contestants, Kenya, by 31-10 to win the Safland Sevens tournament played at the Dome Sports Arena in Swakopmund on Sunday.
The Springbok Sevens team came through the tournament undefeated and only conceded two tries in six matches played, both coming from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series regulars in the final against the Blitzboks.
The tournament started the season on a positive note for the Blitzboks, who will now fine-tune their preparations for the opening leg of the World Series, to be played in Dubai on December 2 and 3.
Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was pleased with the effort from his squad and the improvement they have shown over the last two days.
“Nothing beat real matches, so this was important for us to get game time under the belt. It was very good playing Kenya twice in one day, as they are the type of opposition we will face during the series,” Powell said.
“We had a couple of boxes ticked, no doubt, and also were caught short on others. It was a good exercise for us and I think we have learned a lot about where we are now at this stage of the season.”The fact that there were no serious injuries despite the short turnaround between matches, was another pleasing aspect for Powell.
“We had one of two niggles and will check them out this week, but generally the guys would have benefitted from this trip.”
The Blitzboks delivered a strong show in the final of the tournament.
Cecil Afrika struck early in the first half and when Dylan Sage broke through, the gap opened up to 14 points. Kenya did pull a try back before the break though, but South Africa held a deserved 14-5 lead.
A brilliant run by Siviwe Soyizwapi just after the restart broke open the match for South Africa, who also scored tries via Werner Kok and Stephan Dippenaar, with Kenya only managing one more try to their effort.
The semifinal match against Zambia was not the best performance of the day by South Africa, but they still managed a solid 29-0 win. They make a couple of errors with their passing and throwing and that prevented them from moving into top gear. Zambia also took the game to the Blitzboks well and looked set to score, but for a great cover tackle from Ruhan Nel.
The team then settled into some routine, with Justin Geduld scoring a brace and a conversion to give his team a 12-0 lead at the break.
The second half saw a much better effort, with Werner Kok racing in from 80 meters before tries from Siviwe Soyizwapi and Stephan Dippenaar closed the door on any chance Zambia had.
South Africa qualified for the semifinals with a 51-0 win over the Namibia Academy side. The young hosts could not settle their nerves or defence, resulting in some scintillating tries from the visitors.
Dylan Sage opened and closed the scoring for the South Africans in the first half, with Werner Kok and Siviwe Soyizwapi (2) also getting on the scoresheet with first half tries.
Two more tries by Sage in the second saw him recording a hat-trick, with Ruhan Nel scoring a brace and Stephan Dippenaar adding the other five pointer.
Earlier in the day, the team edged Kenya 22-0 in their final pool match of the day.
The team from East Africa held more than their own in the opening five minutes, but once the Blitzboks found their rhythm on attack, some gaps opened up to be exploited. Ruhan Nel scored the only try of the half, giving South Africa a 5-0 lead at the break.
In the second half, Nel added a second before tries by Branco du Preez and Dylan Sage confirmed the 22-0 result.
The Blitzboks will play in a one day tournament in Cape Town next weekend, before Powell will name his final squad for the opening leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai in the following week.