Blitzboks down Fiji for Las Vegas Sevens crown

2017-03-06 06:18
Cecil Afrika (Getty)

Los Angeles - The Springbok Sevens team on Monday have  won the  Las Vegas Sevens title, their fourth gold medal in the 2016/17 World Rugby Sevens Series.

The Blitzboks scored three tries to two in beating Fiji 19-12 in the final, played at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

It is a third consecutive win for the team in the series after success in the previous tournaments in Wellington and Sydney, having won the opening tournament of the series in Dubai as well.

With this victory, Blitzboks extended their overall lead in the World Rugby Sevens Series on Monday.

South Africa now has 107 points in the bag after five of the ten tournaments in the series, 24 points ahead of beaten finalists, Fiji, who has 83 points. England (81), who were in second place after the tournaments in Dubai, Cape Town, Wellington and Sydney, dropped back to third place.

The Blitzboks arrived in Las Vegas with a 17 points lead.

Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was very pleased with the performance.

"We have set ourselves a goal to at least reach the semi-finals of every tournament in the series, so it is very pleasing that we have managed to win four of those halfway through the series. I have to compliment the players for their hard work and for the planning from management to make sure the guys remain fresh and fit and keep their appetite for winning."

Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, was equally pleased.

“This was probably the toughest one to win given the conditions, so we are pretty pleased about this. Fiji really gave us a hard final, as did the USA in the semi-finals, so we had to work very hard for this one,” Snyman said.

In the final, a brilliant second half run by Rosko Specman helped his team into a 19-5 lead.

Fiji scored first after four minutes of the final, but a converted try by Cecil Afrika had the Blitzboks back in the lead at the break.

Leading tackler in the series, Chris Dry, should his versatility with a try early in the second half to put South Africa 14-5 ahead, before Specman ran more than 50 metres to score the decisive try. Fiji did score again, but that was too late to stop the Blitzboks earning a fourth tournament this year.

- In their semi-final match against hosts, USA, South Africa had to come from behind twice in a thrilling match to win 20-17.

The game was played in front of a huge home crowd and very strong winds.

The home side started like a house on fire and scored in the opening play of the match. A yellow card to Chris Dry and a second try to the USA did not help matters for the Blitzboks, trailing 12-0 after four minutes.

The Blitzboks kept their composure though and once they started attacking, proved their worth. Dylan Sage and Ruhan Nel scored out wide, with the wind making conversions close to impossible.

The second half started brilliantly for South Africa as Werner Kok blazed through the USA defence from the kick-off to put his side in front for the first time in the match.

The USA was not finished though and a long range try put then in front again with a minute to play. A second try to Sage changed the lead for the fourth time in the match and that score proved decisive.

- South Africa had to replace Justin Geduld, who did not recover from an ankle injury picked up on Day Two and Stedman Gans, the official replacement player, made his Blitzbok debut on the bench.


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