Blitzboks overcome tough Japan in Hong Kong opener

Cecil Afrika crosses over for the Blitzboks.
Cecil Afrika crosses over for the Blitzboks.
Image: Springboks Sevens/Twitter

The Blitzboks came from behind against Japan to win 22-7 in their opening game of the Hong Kong Sevens on Friday with two more Pool A matches to play on Saturday’s day two.

South Africa still have to play against Samoa and Scotland on Saturday at the three-day tournament‚ who are higher-ranked teams than Japan. It was crucial to win but the Blitzboks were rusty in the first half.

Japan took a surprise 7-0 lead after a try from Siofisa Lisala and dominated possession for most of the half.

SA did manage to score in the opening stanza when Werner Kok went over and after the break they added three more tries to win comfortably in the end.

Kok scored again after the break‚ with Selvyn Davids converting to put South Africa 12-7 up. Tries by Justin Geduld and Siviwe Soyizwapi eased the lead into a 22-7 win.

“It is important to get your campaign off with a win‚ which I am happy about‚” said coach Neil Powell.

“To have things not going your way in the first match is also not that bad‚ as we needed to work hard to grab the game back from Japan.

“The guys realised that we needed to start all over and nothing is going to happen by itself. We needed to do it ourselves. I thought we laid a good foundation for the second day.

“The Japanese were very physical with a couple of big Pacific Islanders in their team‚ so I am pleased with the way we defended and handled their physicality.”

Powell was expecting another tough day on Saturday.

Samoa beat Scotland 17-7 in the day’s other Pool match while series leader the USA hammered Spain 36-7 and Fiji and New Zealand also had good wins over Kenya and Australia respectively.

“Scotland are one of those teams capable of beating anyone on the day‚” Powell said.

“They play a good brand of rugby and if they get it together on the day‚ they are hard to defend against because they hold onto the ball well. The key for us would be to take away their space and not allow them to get their game flowing.

“Samoa really did well in Las Vegas and Vancouver recently and they have brought that confidence to Hong Kong. Obviously they have a coach who won here before in Gordon Tietjens and with their physical abilities‚ they will take the game to us.”

Angelo Davids became the 178th player to represent South Africa in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series when he took to the field against Japan. The 19-year-old was the only uncapped player in the squad.

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