Vancouver - South Africa reached a sixth consecutive final of the World Rugby Sevens Series at the Canada Sevens on Sunday and maintained their strong overall series lead, despite going doing 19-7 to England in the Cup Final.
The Blitzboks started the tournament, the second of the North American leg of the World Series, 24 points ahead of Fiji in second place. They now return to South Africa on Wednesday, 23 points ahead of England, who have moved into second spot on the overall log. The lead over Fiji, current series champions and Olympic Gold medallists, is now 26 points with four tournaments remaining in the 2016/17 series.
The Blitzboks, who lost Justin Geduld and Stephan Dippenaar before the start of the tournament in BC Place Stadium, also had to take the field in the final without Branco du Preez, who injured a pectoral muscle early on Sunday and lost Rosko Specman during the match itself due to a leg injury.
The influential Specman and forward Chris Dry were afterwards named in the Vancouver Dream Team.
In the final, they took the lead early through a try by Siviwe Soyizwapi, but then missed a couple of opportunities to put England away. The English, who also beat the Blitzboks in the Cape Town Sevens final in December, scored just before the break to level matters and twice in the second half to secure a second tournament title of the series.
A brilliant try-saving tackle by Werner Kok earlier in the day secured the Blitzboks their sixth straight finals berth. The South African side beat USA 14-10 in an epic semi-final, with the result only determined in the last play of the match, with Kok holding up an opponent who looked set to score the winning try.
Tries by Philip Snyman and Specman, both brilliantly converted by Cecil Afrika, proved decisive.
Earlier on Sunday, the Blitzboks pulled away from Canada in the Cup quarter-finals.
The Blitzboks beat the hosts 36-7 to book a place in the last four of the tournament. Soyizwapi scored a hat-trick with Afrika, Dry and Specman adding the other five pointers.
- Afrika was the leading try-scorer for the Blitzboks with 21 points, followed by Soyizwapi and Specman who both scored four tries (20 points). Afrika also extended his overall national points' scoring record to 1204, ninth on the all-time world list.
- Philip Snyman was one of the leading tacklers in the tournament (20), closely followed by Dylan Sage (18).
The top five teams on the log after six tournaments are:
1. South Africa 126
2. England 103
3. Fiji 100
4. New Zealand 84
5. USA 67