London Sevens: Unbeaten BlitzBoks set up Aussie showdown
South Africa went unbeaten on day one of the 2019 London Sevens, notching up 40 points in each of their three matches against Japan, Canada and Argentina. They topped their pool and set up a quarterfinal meeting against Australia on Sunday. Kick off is at 11:58 South African time. Siviwe Soyizwapi and Kurt-Lee Arendse scored four tries each with Werner Kok also adding three on a perfect day at the office for the Blitzboks.
New Zealand, France, USA, Canada, Fiji and invitation-side Ireland made up the rest of the teams in contention for the title.
The shock of the day was England failing to progress to the Cup quarterfinals. Having lost to Ireland early in the day, even beating New Zealand wasn’t enough to seal their progress.
Olympic qualification secured
This season’s World Series incentive has the added incentive of securing automatic qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the top four sides earning their spot at the global showpiece. So far, the USA, New Zealand and Fiji have all earned their spot through their efforts in London and the Blitzboks look set to become the fourth automatic qualifier after England’s howler.
Pool A summary
Two contrasting contests kicked this pool off with Canada producing a resolute display to beat Argentina 14-12 before South Africa strolled to a 49-0 success against Japan. Branco Du Preez scored one try and converted four on the day he became the most-capped Blitzboks player of all-time, reaching 70 tournaments. Los Pumas 7s got back on track by running in six tries against Japan while South Africa plundered five in the second half alone as they eased past Canada 45-14. Adam Zaruba came up trumps for Canada in their final game, scoring a first-half hat-trick in a 31-12 win over Japan, and that left them knowing a Blitzboks victory against Argentina would see them into the Cup quarter-finals. That transpired, with the scoreline of 40-21 ensuring that the relentless South Africans racked up at least 40 points in every game on day one.
Pool B summary
Fiji’s hopes of winning the series were nearly dented straight up as Kenya ran them all the way in their section opener. Paula Dranisinukula eventually edged them home 24-17 and they joined France in winning their first contest after the European hopefuls quelled Samoa 22-14. It was another close call, and defeat, for Samoa second time up as they missed a conversion for victory and succumbed 21-20 to Kenya, for whom Vincent Onyala scored a precious hat-trick. France performed admirably against Fiji and deserved better than a 31-10 reverse but Alasio Naduva, Jerry Tuwai and Livai Ikanikoda all went over to seal their place at the Olympic Games. That set up a shoot-out for a Cup quarter-final berth and, after an even first half, France claimed it with a 31-17 taming of Kenya with Remi Siega scoring twice. Samoa’s hard-luck story continued with a third straight single-figure defeat in an end-to-end encounter with section winners Fiji.
Pool C summary
New Zealand began their quest for glory in London with a 21-7 win against Scotland before the hosts made their bow. England captain Phil Burgess, taking part in his 50th series event, led them out and they looked set for victory when James Rodwell, playing in his last #London7s, went over late on. Ireland provided a twist though with debutant Mick McGrath giving the visitors a 21-17 triumph. They could not carry that form into their match against New Zealand, Andrew Knewstubb and Regan Ware both dotting down twice in an impressive 34-7 triumph. England were then involved in another thriller and seemingly set for more disappointment in front of their home fans until Tom Bowen flew over on the final play against Scotland to breathe life into their day. Jordan Conroy scored a hat-trick as Ireland’s 31 unanswered second-half points sank Scotland and left England needing a ten-point win against New Zealand to deny them a Cup last-eight spot. Will Edwards gave the hosts just that advantage early in the second half but Tone Ng Shiu had the final say, ending England’s hopes and sealing the All Blacks 7s spot in the Olympics.
Pool D summary
Australia and title-chasing USA made good starts to their #London7s campaigns with comfortable wins over Wales and Spain respectively. Maurice Longbottom and Carlin Isles grabbed two tries each in those first games but the biggest news was the return of Perry Baker for the States, and he marked his comeback from injury with a score within 68 seconds of his reappearance. Longbottom was not to be outshone, however, and helped himself to a hat-trick against Spain (42-12). Back came Baker aided by Ben Pinkelman, with both grabbing two tries as they sealed their Olympic qualification by seeing off Wales 28-26. That left top spot on the line and Australia looked on course for it when Steve Tomasin went to the sin-bin and Longbottom and Simon Kennewell pounced. Tomasin produced a Lazarus act to see USA home, though, returning to the field and storming through for the decisive try in a 19-17 win.
London Sevens 2019: Blitzboks results and highlights
South Africa 49-0 Japan
South Africa 45-14 Canada
South Africa 40-21 Argentina
London Sevens 2019: Quarterfinals
Times are SAST.
11:58 South Africa vs Australia
12:20 New Zealand vs France
12:42 USA vs Canada
13:04 Fiji vs Ireland