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Blitzboks start home tournament with win against Zimbabwe
- Updated: December 12, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
South Africa opened their Cape Town campaign of their World Seven Series with a 26-5 win over northern neighbours Zimbabwe at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
But it wasn’t quite as convincing a victory that coach Neil Powell would have been hoping for as they opened their Pool B fixtures.
The Blitzboks remaining two pool games on Saturday are against another African opponent in the shape of Kenya and then England in the evening.
Kenya would have done the Blitzboks something of a favour by holding the powerful English side to a 19-19 draw.
The South Africans led 19-0 at the break after tries by Juan de Jongh and Stormers teammate Cheslin Kolbe and playmaker Justin Geduld scored a third after the hooter had gone. The latter nailed two conversions, the second particularly impressive.
There were many basic errors by both sides with speedster and try-scoring machine Seabelo Senatla looking uncharacteristically butter-fingered on at least two occasions.
The second half saw a good few substitutions for the home side with Rosko Specman and Francois Hougaard both coming on.
It was close to midway through the second half that the first scoring came and it was the wholly amateur Zimbabaweans who crossed, after a lovely flicked on pass had allowed the pony-tailed Riaan O’Neill to canter over near the uprights but the conversion failed (19-5).
The game was put beyond doubt with 1:45 to go as Senatla looked like adding to his 98 international sevens tries but he ripped open play down the left to free Specman who went under the posts and converted for the final score of 27-5.
But the South Africans have lots of polishing up to do after a good few knock-ons and, importantly, two missed line-outs on their own throw. Better opponents will pounce on errors like that in this format of the game.
Skipper Kyle Brown, playing his 50th tournament of sevens, and it would have been more had he not suffered so many injuries during his career, explained afterwards.
‘The first game is always difficult, no matter who you play. The legs are heavy and it’s always a busy build-up to your home tournament.
‘But it’s great positive energy which we get from the home support. It was also great playing the Zimbabweans, I’ve had a few training camps up there so it’s always nice playing against old friends.’
And then he was off to file off through a tunnel of support from teammates and opponents alike… something that epitomises the sevens spirt.