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Vegas win put BlitzBokke on top

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 18:25
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Three titles in four years for SA
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South Africa defended their title at the United States leg of the IRB Sevens World Series, winning a thrilling Cup Final 14-7 against New Zealand.

In winning a second successive tournament title this season, South Africa assume a one-point lead over the reigning World Series champions New Zealand.

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 climb to the top of the log on 78 points.

They also extend their winning streak against the Kiwis to five matches, stretching back to December 2012.

Neil Powell's side reached the Cup Final in Las Vegas with a 14-0 win over the 2010 an 2012 US Sevens champions Samoa.  

In the Final the BlitzBokke and Kiwis were tied 7-all at half-time, after Scott Curry had opened the scoring for New Zealand and Branco du Preez replied for South Africa.

Werner Kok, who had an impressive tournament, scored the winning try soon after replacing the injured Justin Geduld in the second half.

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.

* Earlier the BlitzBokke continued their fine form when they beat Samoa 14-0 in the semifinal.

The teams were deadlocked for much of a tense first half until Lio Lolo was yellow carded.

South Africa made the most of their numerical advantage and Chris Dry stretched over and dotted down to give the BlitzBokke a 7-0 half-time lead.

Sampie Mastriet hobbled over shortly after the break to double South Africa's advantage before Lolo returned from the sin bin.

The BlitzBokke had most of the possession and thwarted a final Samoan surge to keep their title defence alive.  

New Zealand reached the Final after the series leaders came from 0-7 down to beat Canada 26-7 in the second Cup semifinal.  

Earlier, Australia, in a pulsating Plate semifinal against Argentina, scored in sudden death to clinch a 24-19 win and advance to the Final, where they will take on England, who beat France 21-5.

Paul Treu's Kenya stormed into the Bowl Final with a 21-7 win over Scotland. They will face a tough challenge in Fiji, who scored a commanding 40-12 win over Wales.  

Spain and United States, meanwhile, will meet in the Shield Final, the Spaniards beating Portugal 19-12 and the hosts sealing a 28-14 win over Portugal in their semifinal matches.

All the Day Three results!

Shield semifinals:

Spain 19-12 Portugal
United States 28-14 Uruguay

Bowl semifinals:
Kenya 21-7 Scotland
Wales 12-40 Fiji

Plate semifinals:
Argentina 19-24 Australia
France 5-21 England

Cup semifinals:
South Africa 14-0 Samoa
Canada 7-26 New Zealand

Shield Final:

Spain 0-31 United States

Bowl Final:
Kenya 0-35 Fiji

Plate Final:
Australia 24-26 England

Third-fourth place play-off:
Samoa 19-22 Canada

Cup Final:
South Africa 14-7 New Zealand, 14.25

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