JOHANNESBURG – The Springbok Sevens team won a second Dubai Sevens title in as many years at The Sevens Stadium on Saturday and again took an early lead in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Blitzboks outplayed New Zealand 24-12 in a hard-fought final to keep their unbeaten record in Dubai in 2017 intact, following wins over Samoa (26-10) and Fiji (12-7) in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the tournament respectively.
Springbok Sevens captain Philip Snyman had lots of praise for his teammates and management after they were crowned champions again.
“It was pretty pleasing to be back on the field with all the familiar faces and everybody delivered. We realised that although it was the same old faces, we needed a new effort and focus as this is a brand new season, with new goals and objectives,” Snyman said.
“We have seen in the past that a good start in Dubai does give you momentum for the rest of the series, so that was pleasing that we could start on such a positive note. Also, we now look forward to the Cape Town Sevens next weekend, our only opportunity to play in front of our home crowd.”
South Africa will face Russia, France and Kenya in Cape Town next weekend.
Coach Neil Powell said every tournament win has a special feeling. “Each one has its unique circumstances and effort, so this is really pleasing for me as a coach and for us as a group.
“We had a number of players who played 15s during our off-season, and they joined us late, but I was very impressed with the way they got back into the sevens groove and culture. It helps to have a solid sevens foundation,” Powell said.
“Credit to the players, they picked themselves up mentally. We did make some defensive errors, so there is work to be done if we want to be successful in Cape Town.
“But overall, very happy. We will enjoy this win and then start focusing on next weekend once we arrive back in South Africa.”
In the final, South Africa took advantage of an early yellow card to New Zealand wing Joe Ravouvou to score three quick tries and race into a commanding 19-0 lead at the break.
Tries by Philip Snyman, Seabelo Senatla and Kwagga Smith gave the Blitzboks all the momentum needed.
New Zealand did score two tries in quick succession as well in the second half with Rosko Specman in the bin, but once numbers were restored again, Tim Agaba crashed over to confirm the result.
Agaba was the only player in the squad who was not part of the 2016 group that also won the Dubai title.
In the match against Samoa, tries by Senatla (2), Werner Kok and Agaba, and conversions by Branco du Preez and Cecil Afrika (2) eased them past their opponents.
Afrika and Senatla scored tries in the win against Fiji, with Afrika also kicking a crucial conversion in the match.
Senatla finished the tournament as top South African points-scorer with 35, closely followed by Du Preez (30) and Afrika (25). Du Preez kicked 10 conversions and Afrika five.
All three players also extended their respective records for South Africa in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Afrika improved his all-time points’ record to 1322, Senatla extended his all-time try scoring record to 196 and Du Preez extended his all-time number of conversions to 341.
World Sevens Series Log
1. South Africa 22
2. New Zealand 19
3. England 17
4. Fiji 15
5. Australia 13
African News Agency (ANA)