South Africa increased their lead on the HSBC Sevens World Series log to five points over Fiji despite going down to England in a tense Tokyo Sevens Cup final on Sunday morning (SA time). The Springbok Sevens lost 21-14 to the English, who won their first tournament title in two years.
With only two more tournaments remaining in the Series, in Glasgow and London in May, the South Africans are still leading the race for Olympic qualification. They have 129 points from seven rounds and are followed closely by Fiji (125), New Zealand (120) and England (110).
The top four teams on the World Series standings at the end of the season will qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
In the Cup final Charlie Hayter and Justin Geduld traded tries to level the halftime score at 7-7. England captain, Tom Mitchell, and team mate Phil Burgess added two more tries to give the English a strong 21-7 lead.
Although Cecil Afrika crossed over to cut the deficit to 21-14, it was England who defended with determination to win their first Series event in two years.
Earlier on Sunday morning, South Africa defeated Scotland 22-0 in the quarterfinals thanks to tries by Afrika, Geduld, Senatla and Smith. Afrika became the first South African to score more than 1 000 points when he scored his team’s first try.
The industrious Smith dotted down and Afrika added the crucial conversion to clinch a morale boosting 7-5 win for South Africa over Fiji in the semis. Last weekend Fiji beat the Springbok Sevens at the same stage on their way to lifting the Cup in Hong Kong.
All the teams will now enjoy a month long break before competing in the final two rounds of the competition in Glasgow and London in May.
Kyle Brown, the SA skipper said afterwards: “The boys tried their best but it was not our night. Congratulations to England for a good win. They scored when it mattered and defended very well when we were threatening. The two tournaments in the Far East are always very tough but we gave it a real good go. Now we must regroup and prepare for the last two rounds in the UK.”
The Springbok Sevens’ results on match day two in Tokyo:
Quarterfinals: SA 22, Scotland 0
Semi-finals: SA 7, Fiji 5
Cup final: SA 14, England 21
The four top teams on the World Series log after Round Seven in Tokyo are:
- SA 129 points
- Fiji 125
- New Zealand 120
- England 100