South Africa blitz Sydney Sevens
NUKU’ALOFA-February 6: 7.45am (Nuku’alofa Times/Sources): The Blitzboks of South Africa have continued their dominance of the HSBC 7s World Series with a might showing on Sunday in winning the HSBC Sydney Sevens tournament, beating England 29-14 in the final at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
The win, their third in the 2016/17 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, also extended their lead in the overall series.
They now have 85 points, 17 points ahead of England (68), with Fiji (64) and New Zealand (56) further back.
The victory is also their second in two weeks, after the Blitzboks bagged the HSBC Wellington Sevens a week ago.
They won the opening tournament of the current series, in Dubai, back in December last year.
England did manage to edge the Blitzboks in their final pool match on Saturday night.
But in the final the Boks put on a very strong first half, laying the foundation for the win.
It was a sweet victory, as the Sydney win was their first at the event.
Two earlier wins at the former Adelaide event were the other wins on Australian soil.
Stand-in captain Philip Snyman, winger Seabelo Senatla and playmaker Justin Geduld all scored first half tries, with Branco du Preez adding two conversions to give South Africa a commanding 19-0 lead at the break.
A second try by Geduld, soon after the restart pushed the South Africans to a 24-0 lead and although Tim Mitchell scored a converted try for England, they were playing catch-up rugby.
Stephan Dippenaar, who joined the playing squad on Saturday in place of injured Werner Kok, sealed a memorable couple of days for him with a fine try and at 29-7 the match was out of reach for England.
They did score a last minute try through Dan Norton, but time ran out for England, who won the HSBC Cape Town Sevens tournament in December.
South Africa reached their fourth consecutive final in the current HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series due to wins over the USA in the quarterfinals of the tournament and then knocked out hosts, Australia, in the semifinals.
Against Australia, South Africa’s defence again stood firm, but it was a smooth attacking move in the opening phases that gave them the lead. Kwagga Smith scored the opening try after 19 passes and Branco du Preez’s conversion put them 7-0 up.
This lead was cut by a fine run from Tim Anstee three minutes later, resulting in a try in the corner.
Seabelo Senatla then got his regulation try, his eighth in the tournament just before the break to give South Africa a 12-5 lead.
The second half saw some ill-discipline from Australia, resulting in two yellow cards. South Africa played the numbers and Chris Dry scored, with Justin Geduld converting. A second try by Smith, again converted by Geduld, extended the lead to 26-5 and although Australia scored a converted try at the death, the passage to a fourth final was secured for the Blitzboks.
Earlier in the morning, South Africa had to come from behind to beat the USA 21-5 in their Cup quarterfinal.
Carlin Isles scored early for the USA, but two moments of brilliance from Justin Geduld changed the face of the game. First he ran 70 meters down the blindside to score the Blitzboks opener and then a timely interception near his own line resulted in Chris Dry dotting down under the sticks. Branco du Preez converted both, giving South Africa a 14-5 lead at the break.
The USA scored first in the second half to cut the lead to 14-10, but Rosko Specman’s introduction to play was decisive and he set-up Seabelo Senatla with a try. Justin Geduld kicked the conversion for a 21-10 lead and final score.
Senatla, the leading try-scorer in the series, was for the second week in a row named HSBC Player of the Final.
The winger, who bagged nine tries in Sydney and 32 in the series praised his team mates.
“It is incredible. The guys are just magicians, hats off to them, I am just the finisher of the moves. It is bitter sweet, we play here with family so it is a pity to be leaving the family but it’s a new challenge I am excited for,” said Senatla, who now links up with the DHL Stormers for Vodacom Super Rugby duties.
New Zealand beat Fiji in an upset of the event during the Quarterfinals but lost to England in their semifinal clash.
Fiji sprung back later to thrash United States of America in the play-off for 4th and 5th position.
The next leg of the series will take in Las Vegas on March 3-5 and then the new Vancouver 7s on March 11-12.
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