VANCOUVER, Canada - The injury-hit SA Sevens team may have come up short in Vancouver on Sunday (Early Monday, South African time), but they remained out in front in the World Rugby Sevens Series standings after a third-place finish.
Neil Powell’s team – shorn of several first choice players who are on the injured list – are on 109 points, followed by Vancouver champions, Fiji (101), New Zealand (92) and Australia (84).
After finishing as runners-up in Pool D at the weekend, the BlitzBoks showed unbelievable resilience to turn around a 19-0 deficit to Australia in the quarter-finals to win 24-19 after second half tries by Siviwe Soyizwapi (two), Cecil Afrika and Dylan Sage. It was a quite unbelievable turn-around by the South Africans but they wouldn’t be able to replicate that form in the final four.
Fiji won 15-12 after the South Africans lost the ball over the line in the final play of the match. That, after Powell’s men led 12-5 at the break, leaving them to contest the third-fourth playoff position. There they beat the USA 29-7 thanks to tries by Zain Davids, Stedman Gans, Ryan Oosthuizen (two) and Soyizwapi.
Powell said a number of positives came out of the tournament. “We have very high standards and there were times when we didn’t achieve them, but we also played very well at times,” he said afterwards.
“Our comeback against Australia was very good and pleasing. I must be honest, I thought we were out of it, but the guys kept their composure.”
The coach further stated it was disappointing to get into a position to win a match – like the one against Fiji – and then lose. “We had an opportunity against Fiji, but didn’t take it, so that is something we need to get better at,” he said.
“Against teams like that you get one chance, and you must take it. Against the USA it was an ideal opportunity to give some of the younger guys a chance and they responded very well. There were mistakes, but that is how you learn and I was impressed by their efforts.”
Sage enjoyed a good weekend in Canada, not only by scoring the most tries (four) but also making the most tackles (18). Overall, the BlitzBoks made the most tackles during the tournament (136).
The top six teams in the standings are: South Africa (109), Fiji (101), New Zealand (92), Australia (84), Argentina (77), USA (73).