Fitness pulled BlitzBokke through
Superior fitness helped South Africa to come back from 0-7 down and beat New Zealand 14-7 in the Final at the Las Vegas Sevens.
Superior fitness helped South Africa to come back from 0-7 down and beat New Zealand 14-7 in the Final at the Las Vegas leg of the IRB Sevens World Series.
Neil Powell, coach of the BlitzBokke, said that his team - who now tops the IRB standings - will have a target on their backs as they head into Round Five, the Kiwis' home tournament in Wellington on February 7 and 8.
However, he is confident the fitness, defensive prowess and character his charges showed in Vegas will stand them in good stead as they look to win the IRB crown for only the second time.
The BlitzBokke, who took the series lead when they won their second Cup title, have a one point lead over New Zealand in the overall standings.
This was South Africa's third appearance in a Final in the first four rounds this season.
The most remarkable stat is that the BlitzBokke conceded only 14 points in Vegas.
Powell said his charges deserved the win in Round Four, their third Vegas title in the last four years.
"They worked hard back home and it is all credit to them," the coach said of his charges.
"The guts, the commitment it is unbelievable."
He also spoke of the team's gutsy defence and fitness.
"We really work hard on our defensive structures, and even the smaller guys - like Cecil [Afrika] and Branco [du Preez] throw themselves into the tackles and punch well above their weight.
"We have a really special bunch of players - not just the 12 players here [in Vegas], but there's another eight or 10 guys back in Stellenbosch [in South Africa] that are just as good and cane make this side any day.
"Playing against New Zealand, we know that if, come half-time and it is still a close game, we can beat them.
"We are definitely fitter than them - the guys showed it again [in the Vegas Final]."
He said that heading into Round Five in Wellington they keep their heads down and keep working hard.
"There will be a target on our backs and we have to handle that," Powell said, adding: "Hopefully we can make it a big one in Wellington again."
BlitzBok captain Kyle Brown said "toughed it out".
"They were hurting before that game," he said of the Final, adding: "But I am so proud, we did exactly what we wanted to do and forced very uncommon errors from them.
"I am stoked to have moved ahead of New Zealand but we there are still five more rounds to go, and the guys won't let their feet leave the ground too much."