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

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 23 February 2018
Highlanders v Blues 06h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Reds 08h45 Melbourne
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 19h00 Irish Independent Park
Dragons v Edinburgh 19h30 Rodney Parade
Leinster v Kings 19h35 RDS
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
France v Italy 20h00 Paris
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Bath v Sale Sharks 12h30 Recreation Ground
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
SEVENS
MORE LOGS
Pool 0
Team P W D L Pts
Spain Sevens 0 0 0 0 20
Papua New Guinea 0 1 0 0 1
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
Samoa Sevens 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 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