THE Blitzboks will arrive in Port Elizabeth on Monday boosted by their sensational form in capturing the Dubai leg of the HSBC World Sevens Series at the weekend.
The Blitzboks thrashed Australia 33-7 in the final, only hours after they had registered a record 28-0 win over New Zealand in the Cup semifinal, and are now unquestionably favourites to win the Port Elizabeth title.
Lions flank Kwagga Smith was sensational in Dubai and Western Province speedster Seabelo Senatla demonstrated that nothing beats sheer pace at this level of the game.
Senatla overhauled an opponent who was 5m ahead in chasing and dotting down a Branco du Preez kick ahead against Australia.
Smith scored a hat trick in the semifinal against New Zealand and opened the scoring in the final with a brilliant solo try.
He also made a crucial tackle on Aussie flyer Pama Fou in the final when SA held a tenuous 14-7 lead midway through the second half.
It was the team’s sixth final under the coaching of Neil Powell since he took the reins at the beginning of 2013 and it was their third success after losing three of the five they contested last season.
It was also the fourth time SA had met Australia in a Cup final on the circuit, and their third victory.
The win has also lifted SA to second in the overall standings after their fourth-place finish at the Gold Coast last month.
SA have 37 points, two behind Fiji but eight clear of third-placed Australia and nine ahead of perennial pace-setters New Zealand.
The Blitzboks — after making a slow start in the pool phase, where they laboured to wins over Portugal, Canada and Wales — hit their straps on day two in the knockout stages.
A 40-0 win over Argentina in the quarterfinal showed they were finding form and they continued that momentum against New Zealand.
A feature of the Blitzboks’ play was their physicality at the breakdown. They dominated their opponents in this crucial area and several tries came from turnovers.
Defensively, they were superb as well, conceding only a single try in three knockout games.
“We tried to play with variation and the guys really bought into the plan. The players deserve the credit for an outstanding display,” Powell said.
“We are not the biggest team on the circuit, but we are very physical and don’t stand back for any team in the tackle. Our form at the breakdown area was very good and we really took our scoring opportunities well.”