The Blitzboks join England, Fiji and New Zealand as unbeaten sides heading into the last eight after a first day full of top quality rugby under the Dubai sun.
Neil Powell's South Africa are on track to defend their title in Dubai and will face Samoa in the Cup quarter-finals. Fiji, 2015 winners in Dubai, will face Scotland while New Zealand play Kenya. England, series runners-up in 2016-17 face off against Australia.
South Africa entered the tournament with their most experienced side ever and explosive forward Chris Dry says they are going to start from scratch on day two.
"We're very happy with the outcome today," he said. "There are a few things we're going to work on and a lot of things we can rectify ahead of tomorrow. We need to cut out some of the mistakes but it's been a good day. We'll bag it and start from zero tomorrow."
The Challenge Trophy quarter-finals will be Canada v USA, Wales v France, Argentina v Uganda and Spain v Russia.
Neil Powell brought his most experienced squad ever to Dubai with a mission to defend their tournament title, and they began in fine fashion. Ruhan Nel and captain Philip Snyman scored early on against Uganda in their first pool match, with Tim Agaba adding to the scoresheet as they won 19-10. A convincing 48-5 victory over Kenya laid the way for another strong victory for the Blitzboks, beating Canada 28-0, thanks to tries from Branco du Preez, Cecil Afrika, Kwagga Smith and Werner Kok.
Kenya, who last won a tournament on the series back in 2016, started with a 29-15 win against Canada and secured their qualifying spot with a thrilling match-up against invitational side Uganda, who they managed to overpower 29-14. Canada, who were evidently disappointed to not reach the final eight after some great performances last series, did take one win in the pool, a 22-17 win over Uganda.
England were in formidable form on day one and unleashed their attacking potential against Spain in their opening pool match. Tom Mitchell, Dan Norton, James Rodwell and Harry Glover all got their names on the scoresheet, but they faced a tougher challenge against France. Simon Amor's side looked to be in the clear after Ruaridh McConnochie scored in the second half to extend their lead to 14-5 after Mitchell's conversion, but France almost pipped them to the win when Samuel Alerte scored and Jean Pascal Barraque converted. England took the win 14-12, and in their final game beat Scotland 29-0, with Norton getting an impressive four tries.
Scotland, although suffering a big defeat to England, beat France 24-14 and Spain 26-19 to progress into the Cup quarter-finals as second best finisher in the pool.
Rio 2016 gold medallists Fiji topped Pool C and began their Dubai campaign with an eight try, 50-7 win against Russia. Gareth Baber's side then went on to beat Wales 21-7, with tries from Vatemo Ravouvou, Kalione Nasoko and Jasa Veremalua. Australia however, were a different matter, pushing the Pacific Islanders down to the wire. Sam Myers, Simon Kennewell and Benjamin O'Donnell all scored as the scoreline swung between each side, finally landing in favour of Fiji 26-19 thanks to a late try from John Stewart.
Andy Friend's Australia side had started strongly earlier in the day, scoring six tries against Wales to win 38-7. They continued their relentless attack against Russia, beating them 47-0, before finishing second overall in the pool on seven points.
New Zealand laid down a marker to all their rivals, showing that despite the loss of leader DJ Forbes they are a force to be reckoned with. A physical opening encounter against Samoa finished 24-12 with four different try scorers for New Zealand, but against Argentina they nearly came unstuck. Santiago Gomez Cora's side piled on the pressure early on, as Conrado Roura and Rodrigo Etchart led the charge to get on the scoresheet in the first six minutes. The game looked to be running away from the All Blacks Sevens when Gaston Revol went over, and both Joe Webber and Vilimoni Koroi received yellow cards, but New Zealand's resilience led to a late try from Sione Molia and a 21-19 win.
Gordon Tietjens' Samoa side bounced back from their loss to New Zealand to beat USA 26-14. Joe Perez was a key part of the victory, getting a brace of tries. They continued their strong form to beat Argentina 22-12 and secure their spot in the Cup quarter-finals.