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Beaten Blitzboks bounce back to top of series standings

Blitzboks

Despite being thrashed by Australia in the final of the HSBC Sydney Sevens on Sunday, the Blitzboks Sevens team have moved back to the top of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings.

The Blitzboks, who started the tournament second on the log, moved past New Zealand after three tournaments in the series having being played, with the next in the 10-stop tour next weekend in Hamilton, New Zealand.

They lead the standings with 58 points, four ahead of New Zealand and 15 had of tournament winners Australia.

South Africa started the final without influential captain, Philip Snyman due to a hamstring injury, after earlier having to replace Ruhan Nel due to a sprained knee. Sikhumbuzo Notshe replaced Nel for the final two matches, becoming the latest Springbok Sevens debutant.

Earlier, the Blitzboks proved way too slick for the USA in the semi-final, beating them 35-7 after a 17-0 win over Kenya in the Cup quarter-finals took them into the last four.

They scored the most tries in the tournament and made the most tackles, but that still did not result in another title.

The home side, who last won a tournament on home soil in 2002, had too much firepower for the defending champions, who trailed 14-0 at the break. There was very little on attack coming from the Blitzboks and they slipped off 25% of their tackles, something which did not please coach Neil Powell.

‘There’s not much to be happy about the final,’ said Powell. ‘We had a couple of chances in the first half, but we weren’t clinical enough. Even in first phase we were poor, lost two of our scrum feeds, and had a poor option from a lineout as well. We were still in it at halftime, but once they got momentum in the second half, we couldn’t stop them.’

Powell said their defence was good during the weekend, but poor in the final. ‘We only conceded two tries all day, but then five in the final. That was very disappointing. Fact is teams are getting better all the time. We had three tournaments and three different winners. We must make sure we stay ahead of the pack.

‘We have another opportunity in New Zealand next weekend, so will need to make one or two adjustments when we get there.’

Powell said the injuries of Ruhan Nel and Philip Snyman will be assessed as soon as possible and if needed, replacements will be called for.

Stats Facts:
– Cecil Afrika extended his national record as leading points’ scorer to 1347 points and moved to fourth on the all-time world list in the process.
– Seabelo Senatla extended his national try scoring record to 211, also fourth on the all-time list. Senatla is the leading try-scorer in the current series with 22 tries.
– Justin Geduld was the leading points’ scorer at the tournament. He scored four tries and kicked 18 conversions.

The top five in the World Series standings after the HSBC Sydney Sevens:

1 South Africa 58
2 New Zealand 54
3 Australia 43
4 Argentina 41
5 Fiji 40

The draw for next week’s HSBC Hamilton Sevens pool has also been announced and the Blitzboks’s pool games will be very similar to Sydney. They’re in Pool B with England and Papua New Guinea once again and are now joined by Russia.

Picture of the Blitzboks after Sunday’s final defeat courtesy of Nigel Owen/Action Plus via Getty Images


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