Preview: Sydney Sevens

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 20:45
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WORLD SERIES ROUND FOUR: The pundits are wondering if anybody can stop the South African Sevens juggernaut. The bookmakers suggest nobody can.

However, BlitzBok coach Neil Powell moved quickly to play down suggestions that his team is unbeatable.

Since taking over in 2013, the 38-year-old has taken South Africa to the business end of the series four years in a row.

Unfortunately, in those four years South Africa have also been runners-up in the World Rugby Sevens Series four times.

And they may be in hot form at present, but they have a long way to go before they can lay claim to the Sevens World Series crown.

However, Powell is committed to the cause and in three tournaments, South Africa have claimed two titles - in Dubai and Wellington - and missed out on a third in Cape Town by losing 17-19 to England in the Final.

"Everybody is talking about the series and our chances of winning it already, but the key for us is to keep focusing on the next tournament," Powell said.

"I think it's key for the guys to keep their feet on the ground and for us as a management team.

"There are still seven tournaments left and consistency is key. As long as we can stay in the Cup competition all the time, then it will be a good series for us."

BlitzBok wing Siviwe Soyizwapi pointed to the "structures and systems" in the squad as the reason for the success.

The former Southern Kings back is on his third tour with the BlitzBoks, after debuting in Hong Kong in April last year.

"A winning team is a happy team and we are all in a good space," Soyizwapi said.

"We are losing two big players [Seabelo Senatla and Albertus Smith] after this tournament, but the next guy coming in will be able to fill any shoes, as the system will look after him."

Hosts Australia will be looking to make amends for the blunder that cost his team on home soil last year.

They finished second to New Zealand, who pipped them 27-24 in the Final, after Australia failed to run down the clock and kick the ball out on the whistle.

"Those games when you know it's your error that caused the loss, they are tough to take," said Australian coach Andy Friend.

"It was my first tournament and we could have started on a better note with a win, but I was really impressed with the attitude I saw with the boys and they still have the same hunger and desire to do well on the series."

Australia's best series finish was back in 2009-10 when they finished third, and they last won a tournament in Tokyo in 2012.

Sydney last year was the chance to break that duck.

To make the struggle for silverware that little more difficult, Friend has had to contend with a whole swathe of injuries to key players including Ed Jenkins and Lewis Holland.

Of the 12 players Friend started out with ahead of the 2016-17 series, seven are out injured.

Schedule
(Kick-off is local - GMT plus 11 hours)

Saturday, February 4
Argentina v United States - 09.30
Canada v Russia - 09.52
France v Wales - 10.14
Fiji v Samoa - 10.36
England v Kenya - 10.58
South Africa v Japan - 11.20
New Zealand v Australia - 11.42
Scotland v Papua New Guinea - 12.04
Argentina v Russia - 12.36
Canada v United States - 12.58
France v Samoa - 13.20
Fiji v Wales - 13.42
England v Japan - 14.53
South Africa v Kenya - 15.15
New Zealand v Papua New Guinea - 15.37
Scotland v Australia - 15.59
United States v Russia - 18.23
Canada v Argentina - 18.45
Wales v Samoa - 19.07
Fiji v France - 19.29
Kenya v Japan - 19.51
South Africa v England - 20.13
Australia v Papua New Guinea - 20.35
Scotland v New Zealand - 20.57

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SEVENS
MORE LOGS
Pool 0
Team P W D L Pts
Spain Sevens 0 0 0 0 20
Pool 19
Team P W D L Pts
England Sevens 0 0 0 0 19
Pool 20
Team P W D L Pts
Uganda Sevens 0 0 0 0 2
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Fiji Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Canada Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Australia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
France Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
Argentina Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
United States Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Kenya Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Russia Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Pool
Team P W D L Pts
Wales Sevens