Blitzbokke triumph in Las Vegas
Blitzbokke celebrate (AFP)
Las Vegas - South Africa successfully defended their
Las Vegas Sevens title when they defeated New Zealand 14-7 in another dramatic
and tense Cup final between the two rugby rivals in the early hours of Monday
morning (SA time).
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The teams were tied 7-all at half-time
after Scott Curry had opened the scoring for New Zealand and Branco du Preez
replied for the Blitzbokke.
Werner Kok, who had an impressive
tournament, scored the winning try soon after replacing the injured Justin
Geduld in the second half.
The win also gave South Africa a slender
lead on the HSBC Sevens World Series standings. They trailed New Zealand by two
points at the start of the tournament, but a second successive win in as many
World Series events in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas saw South Africa climbed to
the top of the log on 78 points.
The Springbok Sevens enjoyed a lot of
support from the appreciative crowd in the Sam Boyd Stadium and the entire team
and management were mobbed by jubilant fans afterwards on the field immediately
after the final whistle.
The victory was especially significant for
the South Africans, who conceded only two tries during the entire tournament
and managed to stay unbeaten in their successful march to a third win in four
years in Las Vegas. They had to overcome
the loss of ace try scorer Seabelo Senatla, who was ruled out of action because
of an ankle injury, while Geduld and speedster Sampie Mastriet both left the
Cup final action early because of injury.
Afterwards, a jubilant South Africa Sevens
coach, Neil Powell, said: “It was very intense and what a gutsy performance
that was from the guys. They all played for each other. Just the way they
showed the commitment was tremendous. There is still a long way to go to keep
us at the top."
Under the guidance of Powell, who took over
the coaching duties from long-serving Paul Treu at the beginning of the season,
South Africa have now reached three Cup finals in a row this season, winning
titles in Port Elizabeth and Las Vegas.
The Blitzbokke previously won the Las Vegas
title in 2011 and 2013.
Earlier, they qualified for the final after
beating the powerful outfit of Samoa 14-0 in their semi-final clash. They
defeated Argentina 36-0 in a splendid display of attacking skill and great
defence in the quarterfinals.
The 16 teams now travel to Wellington in
New Zealand for Round 5 of the World Series, which takes place on 7-8 February
at the Westpac Stadium.
The final results in Las Vegas:
Cup: South Africa 14, New Zealand 7
3rd place playoff: Canada 22, Samoa 19
Plate: England 26, Australia 24
Bowl: Fiji 35, Kenya 0
USA 31, Spain 0
The HSBC Sevens World Series Standings
after Round 4:
1. South Africa 78
2. New Zealand 77
3. Fiji 56
4. England 53
5. Samoa 47
The draw for Round 5 in Wellington, New
Group A - SA, England, Wales, Portugal
Group B -
NZ, France, Fiji, Spain
Group C -
Canada, Argentina, Scotland, USA
Group D -
Samoa, Australia, Kenya, Tonga