The Blitzboks showed ominous ruthlessness in their opening match of this season’s Cape Town Sevens, strolling to a 49-0 victory over Japan on Friday night.
Brimming with confidence after their third Dubai title in four years, Neil Powell’s men showed hardly any nerves despite some observers opining that they had been grouped in the proverbial Pool of Death for this year’s edition.
That said, the South Africans definitely played the weakest team of the group, making one wonder whether Japan’s pre-tournament billing was purely based on the heroics of their fifteens team at this year’s World Cup.
As it turned out, the Brave Blossoms were painfully exposed.
They looked ill prepared for the Blitzboks’ sheer physicality, particularly in the collisions and lacked the sound decision-making required to evade a suffocating home defence.
Japan’s handling certainly didn’t help.
In contrast, South Africa will be chuffed with the fact that their so-called next generation of players stood up and played defining roles in this rout.
Kurt-Lee Arendse showed his pace on the wing to cross the whitewash twice, his second try a lovely run down the right, where he also – almost comically – sidestepped the last defender from a standing start.
The powerful, silky running JC Pretorius also impressed in midfield, picking good angles to attack from and also contributing a decent shift on defence.
However, Powell will also be pleased with the form of his bolters from the fifteens format, who leave the team for Super Rugby duty after this tournament.
Seabelo Senatla, who was predominantly used as an impact player in Dubai, showed his familiar poaching ability with a steal from a loose ball at a breakdown as well as an interception.
Dylan Sage was prominent as defender, while Ruhan Nel was industrious as replacement.
The Blitzboks will certainly need that type of form against USA and Fiji.
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