S.A,England, Aus & NZ start well in NZ Sevens

New Zealand beat South Africa 19-7 in their Pool A match at the Wellington tournament of the IRB Sevens World Series on Friday to avoid a quarterfinal clash with Fiji on Saturday.

South Africa will now have to face a very good Fiji side while New Zealand have a much easier task to beat Australia in order to advance to the semi-finals.

Playing with four new caps – all still Under-21 as is Cecil Afrika in his third IRB tournament – South Africa had New Zealand under the cosh for the greater part of an enthralling match.

Inexperience cost the Springboks but they had the lions’ share of the possession, territorial advantage and the better of the match generally. DJ Doyle, never South Africa’s favourite referee, also indirectly contributed to their downfall.

He warned a New Zealand player for a dangerous shoulder charge but neglected to award the Boks the penalty, instead going to the original lineout 40 metres out.

A penalty and ensuing lineout five metres from the home side’s after some relentless pressure on New Zealand could have set the Boks up nicely.

The two sides went into the break at 7-all, and it was only right at the end that the All Blacks – one a break from their own territory – scored two tries from two turnovers to seal matters.

The young Springboks have come of age – and difficult though the challenge is and even considering they have lost twice to Fiji in quarterfinals in this series, it is no given that the Islanders will win.

In the other quarters, England, after a convincing 24-10 win over Kenya in their pool match, will go through to face second-placed Canada of Pool D, while Kenya will play Samoa.

In the Springboks’ second round match, young Cecil Afrika (pictured), playing in only his third IRB Series tournament, scored three outstanding individual tries as South Africa beat Wales 38-5 to ensure their berth in the quarterfinals.

That followed a 38-10 win over Niue in the first round after an impressive first half saw them lead 31-0 at halftime.

Against Wales, South Africa, playing with four new caps who are all still Under-21 and Afrika in only his third tournament, were totally dominant in the first half and Wales were only allowed into the Springboks half in the last 90 seconds.

By then South Africa had built up a 19-0 lead via three tries by Afrika (2) and Marius Schoeman.

As in the first match, the only blot on a good performance was the fact that Wales made a clean break that nearly led to a try right on the halftime whistle.

Afrika, who impressed in his first two IRB tournaments in Dubai and George, got his hat-trick off the first move in the second half (26-0) and Ryno Benjamin then added to Wales’ woes (33-0).

Ifan Evans pulled five points back for Wales before new cap Marnitz Hoffman was given a clear run by Mzwandile Stick (38-5) for an impressive Springbok win.

Against Niue the Springboks were up 31-0 at halftime and were impressive in their handling, angle-running and general awareness on attack and Steve Hunt will remember his Bok debut for two good tries.

However, there would have been reservations about the way they allowed the Islanders, feeding on possession scraps, in for two easy tries in the second half while scoring only one themselves.

Coach Paul Treu was a little nervous about the Boks’ defence going into the tournament, but this time it was probably a loss of concentration more than anything else that gave Niue their hardly deserved 10 points.

In the other first-round match in Pool A, Series leaders New Zealand overran Wales 29-5.


The unpredictability of Sevens was emphasised by Canada who the beat Argentina 26-7 in Pool D in the only upset of the first round, with all the other matches ending in big victories for the top seeds.

And Tonga came very close to upsetting Engla

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