It was not the most clinical of performances, but the fact that they were able to come back every time when the chips were down, was the most pleasing aspect of the Blitzboks win at the HSBC Las Vegas Sevens, says Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell.
The winning coach was a proud and happy man after his squad beat Fiji 19-12 in the final to win a third consecutive HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament title and a fourth in the season.
“I am very happy. It was not our most clinical performance of the season at all, but we got the result and that is what was important. I would rather win ugly than lose pretty,” the coach admitted.
“The guys showed tremendous fighting spirit and always managed to come back and score the tries we needed to win the matches. They kept their focus and played very well in the second half of the matches, never giving up.”
The Blitzboks travelled to North America without stalwarts Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith, but still managed to claim top honours. Both are playing Vodacom Super Rugby.
“I thought Siviwe Soyizwapi and Dylan Sage did very well in taking over the roles of those two stalwarts. We are pretty blessed with our depth in the squad. It is good for the players also to realise that the structure is a sound one and as long as they look after it, the better the structure will look after them,” Powell explained.
He was pleased that they could extend the lead on the overall points’ log, but warns that half of the tournaments in the series still needs to be played. “We are in a good position, but we need to maintain our form and cannot think that things will just happen for us from now on. We need to stay grounded and start afresh, as we will need to do in Vancouver next weekend.”
The draw for the HSBC Vancouver Sevens was announced as well. South Africa will face Chile, Kenya and England in pool A.
Selected Team Facts:
- The Springbok Sevens team has now won 28 of their last 30 matches played. England and Fiji (23) are next best in this regard.
- They are also the leading try scorers at the halfway mark, with a 129 tries at an average of 4.3 per match. Fiji (126) is in second place and England (97) third.
- Cecil Afrika extended his overall Springbok Sevens career points’ scoring record to 1183 points and also moved into ninth on the overall log.
- Chris Dry (93), Philip Snyman (81) and Werner Kok (76) are the top three tacklers in the series this far. Seabelo Senatla leads the series in line-breaks (40) and tries (32).
The Blitzboks beat Australia 17-14 to set up a showdown with USA in the Las Vegas Sevens Cup semi-finals.
Australia pushed the more fancied South African side from start to finish. They caught the Blitzboks unawares to score the first try, and so nearly the scored the last, too.
The score was 7-7 at half-time. Every time Australia scored, South Africa managed to reply with a try of their own.
Rosco Speckman finished beautifully down the right wing to propel the Blitzboks into the lead at the end of the second half. South Africa then won a breakdown penalty to bring the game to an end.
The Blitzboks will meet the USA in the Cup semi-finals on day three. The hosts beat Argentina 21-19 in the second quarter-final.
Earlier on day two, South Africa beat Wales 21-7 to finish at the top of Pool A.
Springbok Sevens stalwart Branco du Preez celebrated his 50th tournament on the HSBC WoSeries with a try and a conversion, as well as some excellent tackling as his team swept past a physical Canada 26-7 in their opening game of the Las Vegas Sevens on Saturday.
Rosco Speckman scored a brace of tries and Ruhan Nel had a superb individual effort to thrwart the Canucks, who took an early lead when John Moonlight powered his way over the line.
Canada even led 7-5 at the break in a physical encounter before the superb Blitzbok defence turned the game in their favour, including Du Preez pulling off a superb try-saving one-on-one tackle on the 120kg Adam Zaruba in the second half to stop the Canadians scoring.
From then on the pace was added and when the bench came on the Blitzboks took control, with Du Preez scoring and converting the final try to seal a good opening win.
The Blitzboks clinched a convincing 31-0 win over France in their second pool game at the USA Sevens on Saturday.
The Springbok Sevens have emerged as frontrunners in the World Rugby Sevens Series this season after winning all but just one tournament, and again made an emphatic start to proceedings in the USA.
Earlier in the day, the Blitzboks cruised past Canada, and they then had very little trouble overcoming France, with Justin Geduld dotting down twice in the first half as they opened up a commanding 17-0 lead.
In France’s first clash of the tournament, they clinched an impressive 33-7 win over Wales, but they had no answer against the Blitzboks, with Siviwe Soyizwapi and Werner Kok going over to score in a one-sided second half.