The Blitzboks will yet again face the USA in the quarter-finals on Sunday evening (SA time), after a hugely impressive 38-0 win over England in their final Pool A clash on the opening day at BC Place, and on the back of a hat-trick of tries by Muller du Plessis.
The flying winger scored twice in the first half and got his third in the second half as the Blitzboks finally showed the form they needed to not only defend their title in Vancouver, but also go back-to-back in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series after last weekend’s tournament win in Los Angeles.
But before the clinical victory over England, the Blitzboks were slow out of the blocks against Japan (12-0) and Argentina (17-5).
Springbok Sevens assistant coach, Renfred Dazel, described those two matches as “probably the worst two matches we have played all season” and said the team showed great determination to come back the way they did against England.
“We did not execute the game plan – the bodies were still sore after last weekend and that perhaps contributed to the poor effort,” said Dazel.
“We did our best to get the guys well prepared for the first day, but it took a while for them to get going. The match against USA will be a new ball game again, as they will be much better than last week, I am sure.”
Last weekend, the Blitzboks edged the Americans 12-10 in the quarter-finals of the HSBC LA Sevens.
On Saturday, two first half tries against Japan saw the South Africans lead 12-0 at the break and in a frustrating second half effort, the Blitzboks battled to find momentum and were left scoreless by the Japanese.
The Blitzboks were again sluggish early in the match against Argentina, with both teams scoring a solitary try in the opening half. The second half performance was much-improved performance, with two well-worked tries easing the team to the win.
England, who earlier scored big wins against Japan and Argentina, were blown away by the Blitzboks in their clash. No less than six tries were scored by the rampant South African side, with Muller du Plessis – who scored against Japan and Argentina as well – getting three in the process to end the day with five tries.
"It was a good feeling, especially as they came of good play by the guys on the inside, which made it easy for me,” said Du Plessis, who was also pleased that the team found their groove against England.
Muller du Plessis made a significant contribution to the Blitzboks’ effort on Day One of @CanadaSevens scoring in all three matches. This included a hat trick in the 38-0 win over England in their last Pool A match. #Hierisspoed @CastleFreeSA @FNBSA @ASICS_ZA pic.twitter.com/H8YpN4cTdp— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) March 8, 2020
“The first two matches were not good and we could not get the momentum needed to launch our style of play. We realised that we were not playing to our structures and once we did, the result came.”
South Africa 12 (12), Japan 0 – Tries: Muller du Plessis, Sako Makata. Conversion: Branco du Preez.
South Africa 17 (7), Argentina 5 (5) – Tries: Muller du Plessis, Ryan Oosthuizen, Stedman Gans. Conversion: Branco du Preez.
South Africa 38 (19), England 0 – Tries: Muller du Plessis (3), Stedman Gans, Selvyn Davids, Chris Dry. Conversions: Branco du Preez (3), Selvyn Davids.
Selected Blitzbok stats from the opening day:
Most tries: Muller du Plessis (5)
Most tackles: Werner Kok (10)
Most carries: Ryan Oosthuizen (12)
The quarter-finals schedule (SA times):
20h19: South Africa v USA
20h41: New Zealand v Fiji
21h02: Australia v England
21h25: Canada v Spain