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Blitzboks sink Samoa 19-2 in Glasgow Sevens

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By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s Blitzbok rugby sevens side took another step closer to qualifying for next year’s Rio Olympics as they won their opening game of the Scottish leg of the HSBC World Series on Saturday.
Coach Neil Powelll’s outfit beat Samoa 19-12 in their opening Pool B clash after leading 12-5 at the break.
A sell-out crowd at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow saw Werner Kok opening the scoring with 4min 30sec left in the half as he effected the turnover and then went over down the left after being put into space by Seabelo Senatla.
The conversion by Branco du Preez was good and it was 7-0 to South Africa.
Soon after it was Senatla himself who cut inside nicely down the left and crossing the chalk for his 40th try of the current season, and he leads the try-scoring stakes.
The conversion was slightly the left but the Blitzboks were 12-0 to the good.
The Samoans got themselves back into the game with just 35sec left o fhte half as Tuliu Vaa broke out of his own 22m area, kicked ahead and was hungriest to pick-up the ball and cross over, despite the South Africans having more players in the vicinity.
With 5:55 left to play SA had a penalty after Samoa failed to release. Some good hard bashing forward by Kok and Senatla afford the opportunity for Du Preez to unleash three great step-off before carving open the Samoa defence.. and going on to knock over the conversion as well – 19-5.
But Samoa weren’t quite done yet and Samoa Toloa, who set up the first try, went over after breaking clear around the halfway line. A successful conversion saw the Blitzboks holding a slender 19-12 lead.
There was a late scare for the Blitzboks with 1:30 to play as good scrambling defence saw Samoa unable to unload the final and surely try-scoring pass.
With just five second to play and the Blitzboks on the attack Samoa were down to six men after a deliberate knock-on by Mealoi and the South Africans were happy to get the ball into touch for the final hooter.
Skipper Kyle Brown, while happy with the win, kept both feet firmly on the ground afterwards. ‘We spoke about how every game must count here. It was a good challenge from Samoa and we’re happy with the overall performance.
‘What’s got us to us topping the standings has been our control on defence, that has been the big difference.
‘We’ve got the Kiwis later today and who can’t look forward to pulling on the Bok jersey against the New Zealanders but Kenya is first and that’s more important right now.
‘But obviously Rio is definitely in the back of our mind.’
Calculations indicate that reaching the quarter-finals in Glasgow will mean the Blitzboks cannot finish lower than fourth, whatever happens from that point on.
Finishing in the top four of the final standings guarantees Olympic qualification, subject to SASCOC approval.
Glasgow has happy memories for the Blitzboks after they won Commonwealth Games gold last year.


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