Blitzboks coach Neil Powell huddles up with his team. Photo: Raghavan Venugopal/www.photosport.nz

LAS VEGAS – The Springbok Sevens team extended their overall lead in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series this weekend after claiming a fourth-place finish at the HSBC USA Sevens in Las Vegas on Sunday (Monday morning SA time).

The consistency of the South African performances saw them increase their lead over second-placed New Zealand to ten points as they contested their fifth consecutive semifinal of the series, the only team in the World Series to do so.

The Blitzboks lost 12-10 to Argentina in the semifinal and conceded a podium place to Fiji, who beat them 26-22 in the bronze final, but Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, was not too worried at all.

The tournament saw a number of interesting results, with the USA becoming the fifth team to win a tournament in the 2017/18 World Series. Powell said he was pleased with many aspects of the team’s performance this weekend.

“We are looking for consistency and given the number of new faces and some injuries, we did well in that regard. We had a poor opening match against Wales on Friday and did not play our best rugby against Argentina on Sunday, but did well in the other matches," Powell said.

"We don’t always test measure ourselves on the results, but also the way we play. Obviously, we will have to improve in Vancouver, but our depth was tested very nicely. We want the new guys to play against the likes of Fiji, England and New Zealand to see if they can make the step-up.”

Springbok Sevens captain, Philip Snyman, said the experience gained in Las Vegas will now have to be implemented in Vancouver next weekend.

“We started to play better the more we played together. The learning curve is a steep one at this level and the younger guys will be better prepared come next week after this weekend. We will work hard this coming week and I am really looking forward to the tournament in Canada.”

Early on Sunday, two tries by Siviwe Soyizwapi were cancelled out by two Los Pumas tries, with a sole successful conversion by the South Americans proving the difference. The Blitzboks, who already lost Werner Kok in the first match of the tournament due to injury, also saw Branco du Preez limp off due to an ankle injury halfway through the match.

Against Fiji, Ruhan Nel scored a brace, with Selvyn Davids and Ryan Oosthuizen also dotting down. Fiji also scored four times but converted three of them, which made all the difference.

African News Agency (ANA)

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