By Mark Etheridge
in Cali, Colombia
Team South Africa’s rugby sevens squad came safely through day one of their World Games campaign on Thursday, ending unbeaten in three matches.
Their final match of the day against Canada at a surprisingly well-attended Pascual Guerrero Stadium was the closest, as expected, but they came through 19-17 after leading 12-7 at halftime.
Tries by Bernardo Botha, Werner Kok and Kyle Brown were supplemented by two conversions from Mark Richards.
Said coach Vuyo Zangqa: “I’m pretty happy with the way things went. The first match is always a bit of a feeler but we started putting it together in the second half. One must also remember we were down to a squad of 10 as opposed to 12 as Kyle was still suspended for one match and Cornal Hendricks is still battling with the hamstring.
“Then we could see the improvement coming through against Hong Kong. It was a bit tight in the first half as we started putting things into practice from earlier and then the second half was a whole lot better.”
Earlier they had opened their campaign against the host nation, Colombia where they failed to concede a try in a 43-0 victory.
Flyer Seabelo Senatla had got the Blitzbokke off to a great start, easing any nerves that may have been floating around, with a try inside the opening 60 seconds.
They went into halftime 17-0 up and ended up winning going away, as had been expected. Seven tries came the way of the SA side with Senatla crossing twice and Werner Kok, Jamba Ulengo, Stephen Dippenaar, Ruwellyn Isbell and Steven Hunt also dotting down.
Their second clash was a slightly closer affair as they went past Hong Kong 31-7.
Mark Richards put SA ahead with an intercept try under the posts before Hong Kong struck back with a try after some sloppy tackling by the Blitzboks.
They bounced back soon though to lead 17-0 and when the final whistle went there had been further tries by Isbell (2), Dippenaar and Senatla once again.