ANALYSIS: England new Blitzboks’ bogey, but still unthreatened in HSBC Sevens Title hopes
The Blitzboks’ 14-game winning streak and their third-tournament Championship success was on Sunday halted when they slumped 19-7 to England in the Vancouver Sevens Cup Final.
Winning a total 32 games out of 36 in the current 2016/17 World Sevens Series fold over six tournament rounds, England now prance as the only side to have toppled South Africa in their totalled five outings so far.
Of the five games, the Blitzboks managed to only win one – which was evidently the Sydney Cup Final when they beat England 29-14.
England have won three, two of which were Cup Finals in Cape Town (winning 19-17) and Vancouver respectively and the other being a Pool encounter in the Sydney Sevens (winning 21-15) – then later choking in the Final to the green and gold outfit.
The other match between the two sides had succumbed to a 12-12 draw on Saturday in their Pool A clash, before then meeting again in the Final – which England managed to get the better of.
The Blitzboks in the Cup Final looked well in-control in the opening proceedings, throwing the ball around, making leeway and upping the territory and possession stats for Siviwe Soyiswapi to score a try in just the second minute.
Leading 7-0 for almost the whole first half, the Blitzboks then slipped up on defence when they were left exposed on the one side of the field, which sent England’s Richard de Carpentier foreseeing a try-score.
De Carpentier was then taken down by two Blitzbok cover defenders, but failed to hold their efforts, as he got back up to dive over for a try to take the scores to 7-7 at half-time.
The score right before half-time seemingly knocked the confidence-boost of South Africa, as momentum swung to England’s favour in the second stint.
England left their lead overtake relatively late in the second half, with Dan Bibby scoring on the 12th minute and Dan Norton in the dying moments on the 14th minute.
Norton won the DHL Impact Player Award and the HSBC Player of the Final after having racked up seven tries in Vancouver. He also equalled the all-time highest number of tries scored in Sevens – tallying a total 244 tries in his ascertained career.
The men in white and red from Great Britain can now be deemed as possible bogey contenders for the Blitzboks, who have up until this point seemed unbeatable – beating every team on every occasion, except for England.
Not only is England the only side that South Africa has lost to, or drawn to for that matter, but the English have also managed to now beat the Blitzboks more times than lost – which poses a bogey tag, specifically within the circumstances.
South Africa have so far played in all six Cup Finals of the six tournaments and only playing two different oppositions in all – Fiji and England. They have beaten Fiji on all occasions, but choked to England twice – but won the penultimate other in Sydney.
England’s lack of consistency, however, in opposing other opposition that have fronted on their step, has ultimately costed them their HSBC Sevens Standings placement against South Africa. South Africa is sitting comfortable on top with 126 points.
England is second-placed, a whole 23 points behind the Blitzboks and just three points ahead of the third-placed Fiji.
Considering a Cup Winner is awarded 22 points, with each placement down the order from there awarded respective point-scores, the 23-point deficit between the top two seems like a really steep hill to climb for the English to overtake South Africa on the overall standings.
Ultimately, it is likely that the Blitzboks will continue to flourish and if not winning the Cup Title, placing in the top four at least – which builds to their tally. Head-to-head, however, South Africa fall short to England and with four tournaments remaining, this contest will be something to keep an eye out for.
All Blitzboks’ results at Vancouver:
South Africa 33-0 Chile
South Africa 15-5 Kenya
South Africa 12-12 England
South Africa 36-7 Canada
South Africa 14-10 USA
South Africa 7-19 England
Image: South Africa's Cecil Afrika getting lifted against USA in the Cup semi-final at Vancouver.
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