Debutant Ruhan Nel, Seabelo Senatla and Steven Hunt all scored hat-tricks on Saturday morning (SA time) on day one of the Gold Coast Sevens tournament in Australia to comfortably guide the Springbok Sevens to the Cup quarterfinals. South Africa will now face hosts Australia in one of the four Cup quarterfinal matches on Sunday morning (SA time). They finished fourth at the 2013 Gold Coast tournament.
The Commonwealth Games winners beat Wales 19-12 in their opening match and shrugged off a slow start to eventually outplay American Samoa 48-0 in their second outing. Kenya were no match for the Springbok Sevens, who scored a clinical 45-0 victory in their last Pool B outing of the day. South Africa had to work hard for their first win of the day against a typically stubborn Welsh side.
The Springbok Sevens were on top during the first half thanks to a penalty try and a Cecil Afrika effort. Wales fought their way back into the match when Tomos Williams and Willi Harries each crossed the line. Blitzbok flyer Senatla then clinched the match for his side when he crashed over for.
Earlier he used his blazing speed to stop a Welsh attacker in full flight just before the try line. Debutant Nel grabbed the headlines in their second match when he scored a second half hat-trick against American Samoa. The Springbok Sevens were slow out of the blocks because of some unusual handling errors.
However, they did manage to get into their stride just before halftime to race into a 17-0 lead. Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok and Justin Geduld helped themselves to a try each just before the break. Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell then sent Nel on for his debut and the Xerox Golden Lions midfielder soon made his presence felt with a superb hat-trick of tries.
Hunt added another just before the final whistle (48-0). Kenya ran Wales close in their second game but they were no match for the Springbok Sevens who made a flying start courtesy of a quick-fire Senatla hat-trick (19-0 at halftime). Kok scored the Blitzboks’ first try after halftime before Hunt helped himself to well-taken hat-trick as the South Africans registered a comfortable win.
Afterwards a broad smiling Nel described his memorable debut, “I thought I would do very well to get two minutes of action on the first day. To score three times after coming on as a substitute was really unbelievable. It is a great feeling to be part of the Springbok Sevens and to score a try for the team is just a wonderful feeling.” The rest of the Cup quarterfinal action sees defending champions New Zealand face England, Fiji against Wales and Argentina versus Samoa.
Photo: Werner Kok in action for the Blitzbokke during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
Photo credit: Wessel Oosthuizen