Blitzboks give strongest display of season in Vancouver
The Blitzboks won all three Pool matches for only the second time in six tournaments this season‚ as they topped their group in Vancouver on Sunday.
A confidence-boosting 19-7 win over World Series leaders the USA in their final Pool D clash on day one‚ secured top spot and a quarterfinal against Argentina on Sunday night (SA time).
The last time the Blitzboks went through the Pool stage unbeaten was in round three in Hamilton‚ and on that occasion they advanced to the semi-finals.
Facing Argentina is no easy task but it’s a better scenario that coming up against England again‚ which is the route the USA‚ as Pool runners-up‚ have to take.
SA last met Argentina in Sydney in round four‚ winning 25-10 in Pool play.
But with the South Americans finishing in the top four last weekend in Las Vegas‚ Blitzbok coach Neil Powell realises his team will have to start all over again on the second day of action in Vancouver.
“We played well today and it was probably our best performance on the opening day of a tournament since the series started‚” said Powell. “The guys really looked out well for one another‚ especially on defence. We stuck to our processes and it worked‚ but where we did not do so‚ the squad had each other's back and that was pretty pleasing.” It was a good start‚ but Powell knows his team can still improve: “We are developing and improving as a side and we did that yet again today. We want to judge ourselves on our own effort and development‚ so it was a good one in that regard‚ but we will always strive to do better.”
The Blitzboks showed good form throughout day one‚ thrashing Chile 43-0 after drawing 5-5 against the same opponents in Las Vegas seven days earlier.
JC Pretorius scored in the opening play and got a second as well‚ with Siviwe Soyizwapi and Selvyn Davids also scoring a brace each. Muller du Plessis scored a late try‚ with Davids converting four of those for a personal contribution of 18 points. The match against Wales was a much tighter affair where they also had to cope with a yellow card for Justin Geduld. The Welsh took an early 5-0 lead before Philip Snyman's 67th career try levelled the scores. Tries by Davids and Pretorius either side of halftime secured a 19-10 win. Davids added two conversions. A strong defensive effort against the USA aided the 19-7 win.
Pretorius again scored first for the Blitzboks before Stedman Gans raced through for a 14-0 lead at the break. The top-ranked side pulled one back with a converted try‚ but another by Pretorius confirmed the win. The Blitzboks scored 13 tries and conceded three on the day.
Head-to-head v Argentina:
Played 57‚ won 42‚ lost 14‚ drawn 1
Average score 22-10
Source: TMG Digital.
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