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Blitzboks end fourth and extend Series lead in Las Vegas

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The Blitzboks Sevens team extended their overall lead in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series after claiming fourth place at the HSBC USA Sevens in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The consistency of the South African performances saw them increasing their lead over second placed New Zealand to 10 points as they contested their fifth consecutive semi-final of the series, the only team in the World Series to do so.

The Blitzboks lost 12-10 to Argentina in the semi-final and conceded a podium place to Fiji, who beat them 26-22 in the bronze final, but Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, wasn’t despondent at all.

The tournament saw a number of interesting results, with the US becoming the fifth team to win a tournament in the 2017/18 World Series.

Powell said he was pleased with many aspects of the team’s performance this weekend.

‘We’re looking for consistency and given the number of new faces and some injuries, we did well in that regard. We had a poor opening match against Wales on Friday and didn’t play our best rugby against Argentina on Sunday, but did well in the other matches. We don’t always measure ourselves on the results, but also the way we play. Obviously, we will have to improve come Vancouver, but our depth was tested very nicely today.

‘We want the new guys to play against the likes of Fiji, England and New Zealand to see if they can make the step-up.

Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, said the experience gained in Las Vegas will now have to be implemented in Vancouver next weekend.

‘We started to play better the more we played together. The learning curve is a steep one at this level and the younger guys will be better prepared come next week after this weekend. We’ll work hard this coming week and I’m really looking forward to the tournament in Canada.’

Early on Sunday, two tries by Siviwe Soyizwapi were cancelled out by two Los Pumas tries, with a sole successful conversion by the South Americans proving the difference. The Blitzboks, who already lost Werner Kok in the first match of the tournament due to injury, also saw Branco du Preez limp off due an ankle injury halfway through the match.

Against Fiji, Ruhan Nel scored a brace, with Selvyn Davids and Ryan Oosthuizen also dotting down. Fiji also scored four times, but converted three of them, which made all the difference.

Statistics:
– Soyizwapi (35 points) was the leading points’ scorer for the Blitzboks, followed by Du Preez (21) and Cecil Afrika (17).
– Afrika extended his career points scoring record for the Springbok Sevens to 1385
– Du Preez improved his Springbok Sevens record for successful conversions to 358.

Top five standings
1 South Africa 92
2 New Zealand 82
3 Fiji 79
4 Australia 72
5 Argentina 67

The draw for the HSBC Canada Sevens, to be played in Vancouver next weekend, was made with South Africa in pool D along with Russia, Scotland and New Zealand

Picture of Blitzboks Zain Davids and Ruhan Nel of South Africa and Kalione Nasoko of Fiji contesting a loose ball on Sunday courtesy of David Becker/Getty Images for HSBC


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