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Blitzboks beat Samoa in opening Dubai fixture

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By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s Blitzboks opened the defence of their Dubai Sevens tournament with an emphatic 33-7 win over Samoa on Friday.
Emphatic but the impressive aspect was that it could have been an even bigger score as the Blitzboks showed some signs of rustiness in this season-opening tournament ahead of the code’s debut at the Rio Olympics next year.
Neil Powell’s men led 19-7 at the break and scored five tries in the Pool B match, three in the first half and two in the second stanza.
It was fitting that the mercurial Seabelo Senatla got the scoring underway after just a minute, virtually the first time they got their hands on the ball. There was some great work from Player of the Year winner Werner Kok at the breakdown and Senatla’s searing pace did the rest down the left.
But Samoa equaled midway through the half after a missed tackle by Kwagga Smith and a successful conversion saw the Samoans up 7-5.
But that was the last time the Pacific Islanders crossed the chalk as Kok crossed under the sticks after an interception by Cecil Afrika.
Afrika went off after the score with what looked like a left hamstring injury.
Stormers flyer Cheslin Kolbe then came home and shortly afterwards it was Philip Snyman who went over from broken play as the Samoans only had six men on the field due to injuries.
The second half saw Senatla dash in for his second try of the match as the South Africans kept Samoa under pressure, despite numerous knock-ons and missed passes.
The closing stages saw excellent closing down of the Samoans, twice forcing five-metre scrums. Kolbe continued to make an impact with his fast feet and elusive antics.
From the second of those five-metre scrums, it was Justin Geduld who went straight down the middle and a neat little dummy saw him stepping inside to seal the match, his own conversion making it 33-7.
Said Kok afterwards: ‘We actually can’t be happy with that performance, with schoolboy errors in the catching and passing areas. But still a good start to the season. It’s a pity to lose Cecil, he’s an amazing player but then we also have amazing replacements. Next up are Russia who will come hard at us in the rucks but I’m looking forward to it.’


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