Sun Sep 24 07:13:13 SAST 2017

Impressive Blitzboks cruise into Olympic quarterfinals

By Craig Ray | 2016-08-10 11:18:03.0

Japan‚ who famously beat the Springboks in Brighton at the Rugby World Cup in 2015‚ again shook the foundations of the sport by beating New Zealand 14-12 in their Olympic Sevens opener on Tuesday.

To compound New Zealand’s problems‚ star player Sonny Bill Williams ruptured an Achilles tendon and will be out for nine months. He was also part of the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship squad.

Japan’s heroics gave the tournament the seismic kick start it needed on Day One as men’s rugby made it’s return to the Olympics for the first time in 92 years.

South Africa’s Blitzboks (blandly called Team SA in Rio) looked the most impressive unit on Day One‚ beating Spain 24-0 and France 26-0 to notch up 50 points without conceding.

They have secured their place in the quarterfinals.

Defence has been a huge part of SA’s strength over the past two seasons and on Tuesday’s evidence nothing has changed.

In the match against Spain‚ a brace from Cecil Afrika saw SA jump into a 14-0 lead.

By scoring the first try‚ Afrika made history as the first South African player to score a try at the Olympic Games.

Two more tries by Seabelo Senatla and Philip Snyman completed the scoring against Spain.

A dominant first half rocked France. Tries by Justin Geduld‚ Kwagga Smith and Kyle Brown saw the men in green race into a 19-0 lead.

Great defence by the Blitzboks kept out France in the second half and a late converted try by Dylan Sage confirmed a 26-0 win.

“We played pretty well‚ especially against France‚” coach Neil Powell said.

“I am pleased about our defensive effort. To keep a quality team like them scoreless‚ tells a lot about our effort.”

France had earlier surprised Australia with a 31-14 win before slumping to the Blitzboks. Australia bounced back to beat Spain 26-12 to keep them in the hunt for a quarterfinal place.

Australia might have to beat SA on Wednesday to stay in the medal hunt while France could advance if they beat Spain.

After their setback against Japan‚ New Zealand struck back with a comprehensive 28-5 win over Kenya despite conceding the first try of the match.

Japan were equally impressive in their second match taking the powerful Great Britain team to the wire before losing 21-19. With their final match against Kenya to come on Wednesday‚ Japan have a great chance of reaching the last eight at NZ’s expense‚ if the Kiwis lose to Great Britain in their final match.

Pre-tournament favourites Fiji had no problems in Pool A cruising to wins over Argentina and Brazil to book their place in the last eight.

Pool A
Fiji 21 Argentina 14
USA 26 Brazil 0
Argentina 17 USA 14
Fiji 40 Brazil 12

Pool B
South Africa 26 France 0
Australia 26 Spain 12
France 31 Australia 14
South Africa 24 Spain 0

Pool C
New Zealand 28 Kenya 5
Great Britain 21 Japan 19
Great Britain 31 Kenya 7
Japan 14 New Zealand 12 - TMG Digital