South Africa survive Sevens scare against USA

Sevens top seeds South Africa came very close to defeat in their first pool match against the United States in the San Diego tournament of the IRB Sevens World Series on Saturday when the scraped through 15-14, but recovered well to outplay Canada 31-12 in the second round.

They are all but secured of a quarter-final berth with only the third-round match against Australia remaining.

Canada scored first but a scintillating run by Gio Aplon brought the Springboks a 7-5 lead midway through the first half and a converted try by Rayno Benjamin stretched it to 14-5.

The pace of Benjamin after the break put him in for his second and when Robert Ebersohn scored with the next move it was over at 24-5.

The final score was 31-12 after poor defence gave Canada their second try before Lionel Mapoe scored his first try for the Springboks with Vuyo Zangqa converting from touch.

Earlier only a last minute try by Howard Noble denied US a first ever win against series leaders South Africa. The Boks led 10-0 at the break but US came storming back to lead through converted tries by Paul Emerick and Kevin Swiryn, before Noble’s late dash to the line denied the home team and their expectant crowd, reports the IRB website.

Australia also succumbed in their second round pool match against the US (17-12) for the hosts to thereby prove their close loss to the Springboks was no fluke.

Earlier Australia beat Canada 35-7 in Pool A’s other opening match, Luke Morahan scoring his 15th try this season – the leading mark in the current World Series. World Cup-bound Uruguay caused an early upset by beating Kenya 14-12 in Pool B.

The Uruguayans scored two tries through Santiago Carracedo and Santiago Gibernau and then defended with their lives to shut the Africans out for much of the match. Matias Arocena slotted both conversions for Los Teros, while only one of Kenya’s tries by Lavin Asego and Collins Injera went converted.

In the other Pool B match a much improved France might well have beaten New Zealand in the first round, but for a couple of bad mistakes.

The French held the defending champions to 12-12 at the half and should have stretched their lead. Stand-in captain Zar Lawrence inspired New Zealand to raise their level and tries by Tim Mikkelson and Nigel Hunt took them well clear for a 22-12 win.

But in the second round France were outplayed 33-0 by Kenya to virtually disqualify themselves from the Cup competition.

In Pool C England and Samoa won their opening matches against Scotland and Japan respectively. Wellington champions England built on a 12-7 lead against the Scots, to win 22-12. Samoa scored five tries to Japan’s one to win their match 33-7.

Returning playmaker Uale Mai was instrumental in creating the islanders’ best moments as they looked threatening after an average – for them -Wellington tournament.

England then beat Japan 35-12 and Samoa was on top against Scotland (24-7) to virtually ensure that they both go through to the quarters Argentina scored seven unanswered tries in seeing off Mexico 45-0 in their opening match in Pool D, captain Santiago Gomez Cora and Gonzalo Camacho each grabbing a brace.

Fiji also scored an early win against Wales, building on a 21-7 half time lead to win 35-14, newcomer Pio Tuwai crossing for two tries early in the second half to take them clear.

Wales were also beaten quite comprehensively in the second round with Argentina winning 20-5.

Results of the first two rounds in the IRB Sevens World Series tournament in San Diego on Saturday are:

Round One:
Pool A: South Africa 15 United States 14, Australia 35 Canada 7.
Pool B: New Zealand 22 France 12, Uruguay 14 Kenya 12.
Pool C: England 22 Scotland 12, Samoa 33 Japan 7.
Pool D: Fiji 35 Wales 14, Argentina 45 Mexico 0.

Round Two:
Pool A: South Africa 31 Canada 12, United

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