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Blitzboks place 5th in London Sevens, crowned 2016/17 World Sevens Series Champs

BY MARC JACOBSON - MAY 22, 2017
Blitzboks place 5th in London Sevens, crowned 2016/17 World Sevens Series Champs

The Blitzboks were officially crowned 2016/17 HSBC Sevens Series’ Champions after their dead rubber showing at the London Sevens held at Twickenham Stadium over the weekend.

Heading into the tournament, South Africa already had the Series’ Championship in the bag after winning the Paris Sevens’ Cup Title the week before, which resultantly steered them 34 points clear of the second-placed England. Receiving 22 points for a Cup Title, there was no catching the men in Green and Gold in London’s showpiece.

It was Scotland who achieved maximum points in London, after beating hosts England 12-7 in the Cup Final. The Blitzboks, nonetheless, were valiant in their efforts to reclaim a title, but had to succumb to fifth-place after losing out to England 17-12 in the crucial Cup quarter-finals.

The match was one seemingly snatched out of the fire from the English, as the Blitzboks took a tandem lead in the early stages – heading up 12-5.

The turnaround notch then came in the later stages of the first half, when South Africa won a penalty in their own half, only for it to be reversed, due to a spotted neck roll from Werner Kok, which the 24-year-old also received a yellow card for.

England then capitalised on their numerical advantaged and scored a converted try on the brink of half-time. Returning to full-strength again, the Blitzboks always throughout the second half looked to have the slight edge, but poor decision-making at the closing stages of the game from Cecil Afrika, saw him wildly obscure an attempted skip pass forward.

If the ball had moved swiftly along the hands, a certain try would have been on the cards, but it was England who made use of their turn-over opportunity and heeded good go-forward to eventually score a try in the corner from try-collector, Dan Norton.

The Blitzboks then to the least, creamed off their 2016/17 title-winning Sevens Series’, with a 24-7 victory over Argentina in the 5th-place semi-final, only to beat Australia 28-17 in a hard-fought encounter for their 5th-place finish.

On day one, South Africa were unconvincing to say the least, after scalping Kenya and Wales 12-10 each respectively, followed by a 24-12 defeat to USA. The Americans then went on to place fourth in the tournament, after losing out to Canada 22-19 in the 3rd/4th play-off.

In their wrap of the 10-tournament Series, the Blitzboks have won an astonishing 49 games out of a total 60, and have made it to eight of the 10 Cup Finals, while winning five. The two tournaments where they failed to make the final, they placed sixth in Singapore and fifth in London on Sunday respectively.

Seabelo Sanatla, who did not even compete in the last six tournaments due to his crossover to Super Rugby commitments, scored the most tries for South Africa (32), also the fifth-most overall. Perry Baker (57) scored the most.

As a team, South Africa scored the second-most tries throughout the Series with 225, seconded by Fiji’s 245.

Two Blitzboks’ players, Chris Dry and Rosko Specman, were included in the HSBC 2016/17 Dream Team – joined by England’s Dan Norton, Fiji’s Kalione Nasoko and Jerry Tuwai and USA’s Perry Baker and Danny Barrett.

On the final 2016/17 HSBC World Sevens Series standings, South Africa cemented themselves miles ahead of the rest for their crown, with a total 192 points. England placed second with 164 points, followed by Fiji at third with 150.

Top 10 on the HSBC Sevens Series standings:

  1. South Africa- 192
  2. England- 164
  3. Fiji- 150
  4. New Zealand- 137
  5. USA- 129
  6. Australia- 113
  7. Scotland- 109
  8. Canada- 98
  9. Argentina-90
  10. Wales- 73

Image: Blitzboks celebrating their 2016/17 World Sevens Series Championship title.