The South Africans edged Argentina 17-14 thanks to Davids’ late winning try to set them up for a quarter-final clash with France at 23h58 on Saturday evening (SA time).
Earlier on the first day, Shilton van Wyk’s hat-trick steered the Blitzboks to a 34-5 victory over Canada in their pool opening clash, however, they had to work very hard for their wins over an improving Spain and the dangerous Argentine outfit.
Spain made the Springbok Sevens team sweat for a 19-12 win as Shaun Williams’ converted try ultimately proved the difference between the sides after the Spanish staged a strong comeback from their 7-0 half-time deficit.
The hard-fought win then set up a decisive Pool D meeting with Argentina, who earlier also managed to beat Spain and Canada in their opening fixtures.
Philip Snyman, the Blitzboks’ assistant coach, said that although they were happy with the three wins, they know they have some improvements to make if they want to be successful in the playoffs.
“We are pleased with the three wins, but we left a few opportunities out there on the pitch,” said Snyman. “We will review the performances and pinpoint where we have to improve and hopefully we can do even better on the second day.”
Snyman commended Spain for their fighting performance in the second encounter: “They counter-rucked us and we were not happy with our physicality. Our defence must also improve as we need to put shoulders on bodies and get the attackers onto the ground.”
See line, reach line 🎯— World Rugby 7s (@WorldRugby7s) January 21, 2023
Zain Davids clung on to see @blitzboks 🇿🇦 to victory against Argentina@DHLRugby | #ImpactMoment | #NZ7s pic.twitter.com/fJCb0cFxiS
The South Africans also had to dig deep to outplay Argentina in their final match of the day. The South Americans took the early lead with a try in the second minute, but tries from Dalvon Blood and Christie Grobbelaar edged the Blitzboks ahead at the break by 12-7.
Luciano Gonzalez’s try shortly after halftime saw Argentina regain the lead and the South Americans fought hard until Zain Davids went over for the late winner to snatch a dramatic victory.
“They are a quality side and I think we were to lucky win,” said Snyman.
“Our tactic was to starve them of possession, but that didn’t go according to plan because we gave away too much possession, we had a number of loose passes and some missed tackles.
“But to put Argentina away despite so many errors showed the character of the players, and in the end we were pleased with the win.”
The Springbok Sevens now face France late on Saturday in one of the four quarter-finals and Snyman said the Blitzboks know exactly what to expect: “The opposition will be even stronger and the opportunities much less, so we would need to keep ball in hand, muscle up and grab our attacking opportunities.”
Springbok Sevens 34 (19) Canada 5 (5)
Blitzboks – Tries: Shilton van Wyk (3), Selvyn Davids, Christie Grobbelaar, Shaun Williams. Conversions: Ricardo Duarttee (2).
Canada – Try: Phil Berna.
Springbok Sevens 19 (7) Spain 12 (0)
Blitzboks – Tries: Dalvon Blood, Selvyn Davids, Shaun Williams. Conversions: Ricardo Duarttee (2).
Spain – Tries: Eduardo Lopez, Francisco Soriano. Conversion: Francisco Cosculluela.
Springbok Sevens 17 (12) Argentina 14 (7)
Blitzboks – Tries: Dalvon Blood, Christie Grobbelaar, Zain Davids. Conversion: Ricardo Duarttee.
Argentina – Tries: Rodrigo Isgro, Luciano Gonzalez. Conversions: Santiago Vera Feld (2).
Cup Quarter-finals (SA times):
23h58: South Africa vs France
00h20: Fiji vs Argentina
00h42: USA vs Australia
01h04: New Zealand vs Ireland