Afrika breaks new ground in PE
Cecil Afrika became the all-time top points scorer for South Africa as the Blitzbokke went unbeaten at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
The hosts beat pool rivals Kenya, USA and Wales easily as they cruised through to set up a Cup quarterfinal with England who narrowly lost out to New Zealand in their last match of the day.
Afrika went past Fabian Juries as the all-time leading points scorer for South Africa in their comprehensive 36-0 win against Wales in the last match of the day and said that doing so in front of his home crowd had made it especially satisfiying.
"It's a really proud moment for me but I couldn't have done it without all my team-mates. It's awesome to play in front of a home crowd and we can only thank them for coming out to support us," he said.
Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell was content with the efforts shown by the players, but warned that the real test will start against England on Sunday.
“We did attack well today. I did feel the guys were too tense and trying to do too much in the early matches, but they relaxed nicely against Wales and we could score a number of good tries,” Powell said.
“The USA was physical and made sure we did not get into our rhythm while Kenya was also tough to break down. One of our great successes last weekend in Dubai was the contribution of the guys who came on off the bench, and we are fortunate to have players of that calibre who can come on and make a difference.”
Powell was full of praise for winger Seabelo Senatla, who scored a number of breath-taking tries.
“Seabelo is a special player and he makes things happen. However, it’s always a team effort and the players upfront do the hard yards so that our exciting runners can finish the job.”
New Zealand will face the USA in their Cup quarterfinal after the Americans notched victories over Kenya and Wales.
Fiji and Argentina also went through the first day unbeaten to secure their spot in the Cup quarterfinals on Sunday.
Fiji face last week's beaten finalists Australia whilst Argentina will be up against Scotland.
The Blitzboks continued on their winning way, reaching their third consecutive quarterfinal of the season, with a comprehensive 36 point win over Wales, Afrika and Seabelo Senatla provided fans with a couple of spectacular diving tries to get proceedings underway.
The USA also set sail for their first quarterfinal appearance of the season racing in three first half tries for a 19-0 lead over Kenya. Converted tries to Zack Test and Madison Hughes early in the second assured Mike Friday's men a safe passage to the top eight.
Earlier South Africa added to their opening 26-0 win over the USA with a 38-7 defeat of Kenya in their round two match. Just as he did in their first pool game, Senatla scored twice for the defending champions with two scintillating runs to get the home crowd singing.
The USA pulled off a 38-12 win over Wales to keep their chances of reaching a first quarter final of the season alive. Wales started brightly with a try to Sion Bennett before the USA fought back with two unanswered tries to Perry Baker and Hughes for a 12-5 lead. The USA dominated the second half, scoring 24 points to one Wales try.
Argentina beat Australia 31-21 to qualify in first place in Pool B, setting up a quarterfinal meeting with Scotland while the Wallabies will take on Ben Ryan's Fiji.
Argentina's Javier Rojas showed a clean pair of heels posting the first try before Fernando Luna and Axel Muller also found open space to score and all of a sudden it was 19-0. Australia regained their composure to score first in the second half through Pama Fou but when Santiago Cordero scored Los Pumas fourth try their fate was sealed.
Earlier in the day, Australia and Argentina secured quarterfinal berths, both winning their opening two pool games against Portugal and Zimbabwe.
After a testing 33-21 first up win over Portugal including Pama Fou's 48th Series try, the Wallabies jumped out to a 17-0 lead over Zimbabwe on the back of a hat-trick from 21-year old Nick Malouf. Alex Gibbon was the star of the second half with a hat-trick of his own as Australia raced away with the game shutting out their opponents 50-0. Meanwhile, Argentina continued their winning way with a hard fought 14-7 win over a much improved Portugal after earlier defeating Zimbabwe 31-5.
Los Pumas began their tournament brightly defeating Zimbabwe 31-5 after three unanswered tries in the first half to Etchart, Sabato and Rojas setting up a 19-0 lead. The Pumas added two further tries before Zimbabwe's Kilvan Magunje brought the crowd to their feet breaking through the defence to score their only try of the match.
Current Series leaders Fiji defeated Scotland 19-12 to record a clean sweep of wins on Day One in Port Elizabeth. Leading 19-7 at the break thanks to a double from Jasa Veremalua and the ever-present Osea kolinisau Fiji were then kept scoreless in the second half as the Scots reduced the margin to seven in a closely fought contest with the losing margin enough to help the Scots sneak into the top eight on points differential.
Earlier, Canada threw their quarterfinal chances away as they were beaten 24-21 by France in their final pool match despite leading 21-0 at the break. Four unanswered tries to Les Blues in the second half, including a last-gasp effort at the death by Terry Bouhraoua sealed what seemed an unlikely win for France at the break.
After accounting for France 45-5 in round one of the pools, Fiji came up against a more determined Canada outfit next. With the scores locked up 7-7 at half time Ben Ryan's side helped themselves to three second half tries to set up their second win of the day.
France stole the early lead in their second match against Scotland with a try to Vakatawa in the second minute before the Scots hit back with two tries to lead 12-5 at the break. Both teams traded tries in the second half but it was Scotland prevailing by seven points. Earlier, the Scots went down 14-12 to Canada, leaving results in the last round of pool games to determine who will join the quarterfinals from Pool C on day two.
New Zealand have finished on top of the table in Pool D after a hard fought 5-0 victory over England, both teams already assured of competing in the quarterfinals. England enjoyed the territorial advantage against defending World Series champions coming close to scoring on several occasions but they could not break through New Zealand's defence in a tightly contested first half. Joe Webber broke the deadlock in the second to put Gordon Tietjens' side through on top of the pool.
Whilst the outcome had no bearing on the top eight, Japan enthralled a vocal crowd with a 17-14 win over Samoa in their final pool match after trailing 14-0 at half time, providing a disappointing end to the day for Dickie Tafua's men, runners-up in the Gold Coast.
Resting a host of stars early in match two after a first-up 24-7 win over Samoa, it took the All Black Sevens the majority of the first half to overcome the tenacious Cherry Blossoms leading 12-0 at the break after tries to Scott Curry in the fifth minute and Kurt Baker on the siren. Once they got going though Japan had no answers, New Zealand crossing for a further three tries for a convincing 29-point win.
England beat Samoa 22-7 to also advance to the quarterfinals. After a tight first half where Samoa took the early lead through a converted Lolo Lui try before England's Tom Mitchell reduced the margin to two points at the break. Three tries in the second half, including Mitchell's second and a double to Jeff Williams, gave England just the buffer needed. Simon Amor's side also beat Japan 45-0 with Dan Norton scoring twice in their first match.
Day One results
Fiji 45-5 France
Scotland 12-14 Canada
Australia 33-21 Portugal
Argentina 31-5 Zimbabwe
New Zealand 24-7 Samoa
England 45-0 Japan
South Africa 26-0 USA
Wales 29-5 Kenya
Fiji 26-7 Canada
Scotland 19-12 France
Australia 50-0 Zimbabwe
Argentina 14-7 Portugal
New Zealand 29-0 Japan
England 22-7 Samoa
South Africa 38-7 Kenya
Wales 12-38 USA
France 24-21 Canada
Fiji 19-12 Scotland
Portugal 19-7 Zimbabwe
Australia 21-31 Argentina
Samoa 14-17 Japan
New Zealand 5-0 England
USA 33-5 Kenya
South Africa 36-0 Wales
Day Two fixtures
South Africa v England – 12.19
Fiji v Australia – 12.41
New Zealand v USA – 13.03
Argentina v Scotland – 13.25
Wales v Samoa – 10.51
Canada v Zimbabwe – 11.13
Japan v Kenya – 11.35
Portugal v France – 11.57