Uncategorized 5.3.2018 09:58 am

Blitzboks ‘happy’ with fourth as Las Vegas delivers surprises

Ruhan Nel was a standout performer for the Blitzboks. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Gallo Images)

Ruhan Nel was a standout performer for the Blitzboks. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Gallo Images)

Neil Powell’s men have their depth severely tested in a tournament that saw surprise results around every turn.

The Blitzboks extended their overall lead in the World Rugby Sevens Series this weekend after claiming fourth place finish at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas early Monday morning (SA time).

The consistency of the South African performances saw them increasing their lead over second placed New Zealand to ten points as they contested their fifth consecutive semifinal of the series, the only team in the World Series to do so.

The Blitzboks did lose 12-10 to Argentina in the semifinal and conceded a podium place to Fiji, who beat them 26-22 in the bronze final, but Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was not despondent at all.

The tournament saw a number of interesting results, with the USA becoming the fifth team to win a tournament in the 2017/18 World Series.

Powell said he was pleased with many aspects of the team’s performance this weekend.

“We are looking for consistency and given the number of new faces and some injuries, we did well in that regard. We had a poor opening match against Wales on Friday and did not play our best rugby against Argentina on Sunday, but did well in the other matches. We don’t always test measure ourselves on the results, but also the way we play. Obviously, we will have to improve come Vancouver, but our depth was tested very nicely. We want the new guys to play against the likes of Fiji, England and New Zealand to see if they can make the step-up.”

Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, said the experience gained in Las Vegas will now have to be applied in Vancouver next weekend.

“We started to play better the more we played together. The learning curve is a steep one at this level and the younger guys will be better prepared come next week after this weekend. We will work hard this coming week and I am really looking forward to the tournament in Canada.”

Early on the final day, two tries by Shakes Soyizwapi were cancelled out by two Los Pumas tries, with a sole successful conversion by the South Americans proving the difference.

The Blitzboks, who already lost Werner Kok in the first match of the tournament due to injury, also saw Branco du Preez limp off due an ankle injury halfway through the match.

Against Fiji, Ruhan Nel scored a brace, with Selvyn Davids and Ryan Oosthuizen also dotting down.

Fiji also scored four times, but converted three of them, which made all the difference.

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