BlitzBoks ready to turn up the heat

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 17:40

REACTION: South Africa may be sitting pretty at the top of the Sevens world, but they are not about to ease off.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell, speaking after his team's dominant performance in winning the Wellington leg of the World Series on Sunday.

Powell, speaking after his team beat Fiji 26-5 in the Wellington Final - to stretch their lead to 12 points at the top of the World Series standings - said finishing in the top four in every one of the remaining six tournaments is a prerequisite.

The rampant South African side dominated the two-day tournament, scoring 174 points in their six matches and conceding only 22.

It was the South Africans first win in Wellington since 2002, after finishing runners-up in the New Zealand capital in 2014 and 2016.

Powell was still a player when the BlitzBoks last won in the New Zealand capital.

After three rounds, they sit on 63 points, followed by Fiji on 51, who overtook England (49) - with Scotland (44) and New Zealand (39) the next best.

"That [2002] was my first win as a BlitzBok and this [Sunday] was my first here [Wellington] as a coach," Powell said.

"It is very pleasing, especially as we came so close last year. I will remember the win, but also because of the tremendous character showed by the team," Powell added.

"The guys were tested out there today [Sunday], especially the match against Canada was a very physical one."

He made it clear they are not going to ease off now, as they search for South Africa's second World Series win - the first since the 2008/09 season.

The BlitzBoks have finished runners-up seven times, including the last four seasons.

"We have set a standard for ourselves now and if we want to make the top four in every tournament," Powell said, adding: "We will need to be consistent in all our phases of play.

"The guys are trusting the system and the system is looking after them and as long as that happens, we should do well."

BlitzBok captain Philip Snyman said the hard work during the break was worth it.

"We worked really hard after Christmas, and we played some great rugby this weekend," Snyman said.

"We are happy to get a first win since 2002 and its extra sweet after last year's defeat in the final.

"Playing Fiji twice in one weekend doesn't make it easier, but our defence system was great. Hats off to the guys and the coaching staff. It wasn't zero tries, so definitely some work to be done before Sydney.

"Thank you to the whole of Wellington, we are really grateful for the win," he added.

Seabelo Senatla was named the Player of the Final on Sunday.

"I am going to miss sevens for a while but I will be coming back next season. It is an incredible vibe and atmosphere. It's beautiful to be a part of," he said.

Senatla was rounded when Fiji scored their only try in the Final, but he said the team stayed calm.

"It was all about keeping calm and starting again.

"We have a great bond, the players play for each other. We have one big happy family, and we put our bodies on the line for each other," he added.

The fact that he could move past the Fabian Juries mark for most tries by a South African (180) - by scoring a try in the Final - made that extra special, he said.

South Africa heads the stats count in a number of departments.
* Best tackle completion rate - 195 tackles (19 missed) for 80 percent (as 81 percent so far in series). Werner Kok (60) made the most tackles for the team.
* The 28 tries by South Africa was also the most of any team and they scored the most points at the tournament 184 (Fiji second 140). Senatla (23) is leading try-scorer of the series and scored eight tries in Wellington, the most at the tournament.
* Branco du Preez kicked the most conversions and Albertus Smith and Senatla also made the tournament's Dream Team.
* The 45-0 win over France in the Cup quarterfinal is the biggest winning margin in the Cup quarterfinals in the series this far.
* The six wins in Wellington also resulted in the BlitzBoks winning 27 of their last 30 matches on the circuit. Fiji is second with 22 out of 30 and Scotland and England in third place with 20 out of 30 wins.

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