Port Elizabeth - South Africa moved to the
top of the Sevens World Series points table on Sunday when they claimed a
second consecutive World Series title in as many weeks.
The Springbok Sevens team defeated New
Zealand 26-17 in a pulsating final of the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament,
a week after they claimed the Dubai Sevens title.
The hosts trailed Fiji by two points coming
into their home event, but now lead the standings with 59 points, with Fiji
(51), New Zealand (47) and Australia (46) completing the top four places that
would ensure automatic entry into the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
More than 63 000 people attended the event
in Port Elizabeth and they were left in raptures after the Blitzbokke again
came from behind to claim the title they won a year ago. The team, who had also
trailed Australia in the semi-finals (10-0), conceded an early try in the
final, as Sherwin Stowers dotted down for New Zealand.
Tries by Philip Snyman and Cecil Afrika
gave the home side the lead, but Afrika was yellow-carded shortly after and New
Zealand used that advantage to claim a second try before the end of the half.
Leading tournament try-scorer Seabelo
Senatla scored early in the second half to push the lead out to nine points,
but again New Zealand came back within two minutes with a try by Joe Webber,
his second of the final.
The deal was sealed for the home side
though when Kwagga Smith scored, with Afrika’s conversion providing the
necessary buffer for any late All Blacks Sevens counterpunch.
Coach Neil Powell was pleased with his
side’s ability to stay calm under pressure and to play to their strengths.
“We had to dig deep. We had three very
worthy opponents today and each asked very different questions. We had to come
from behind in each match today, but this team has shown they have the
determination and belief to succeed.
“We used sport psychologist Dr Jannie Botha
this week and it helped the guys to stay focused in a week full of the pressure
that comes with hosting the tournament.
A late second half surge by the Blitzbokke
team helped them to a hard-fought 19-10 win over Australia in the semi-finals
earlier on Sunday.
Three second half tries gave the home side
a win that looked unlikely after Australia scored twice in a minute and the South
Africans had Afrika sin-binned as well.
Australia’s 10-0 lead was first cut by a
try from Branco du Preez, before Kyle Brown and Werner Kok ran in from a
distance to clinch the win.
In their quarter-final match against
England, they had to overcome an early try by England's Alex Grey to score a
A brace by Kwagga Smith, another long-range
effort by Seabelo Senatla and a well-worked try by Werner Kok secured the
passage into the next phase.
Earlier, the USA won the Plate Final by
beating Fiji 21-14, Portugal won the Shield by beating Samoa 19-14 and Canada
outlasted Kenya 24-7 for the Bowl.
In the bronze final, Australia beat
The standings after three rounds of the Sevens
World Series are:
1. South Africa 59
2. Fiji 51
3. New Zealand 47
4. Australia 46
5. Argentina 40
6. England 37
7. Samoa 29
8. Scotland 27
9. USA 26
10. Wales 25