Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell applauded his players for their efforts after the team finished third at the 2016 Hong Kong Sevens on Sunday and feels that another victory in the remaining three tournaments of the overall World Rugby Sevens Series is within their grasp. The team reached their seventh consecutive semi-final in the series on Sunday, but have only once (in Cape Town) converted that into a tournament win. Powell says: ‘We are South Africans, so will never be happy with third or second, but I think we are playing well at the moment. The guys have grafted really hard over the last three, four months and we need a result to keep our motivation up. I know the guys will keep on working hard, keep their heads up and we will get over that line soon. The new guys showed they wanted to be part of the team and I can only applaud the effort from the team.’
The South Africans have won 22 of their last 30 matches in the series, but did slip into third position on the overall World Rugby Sevens Series. The Hong Kong Sevens winner, Fiji (128), extended their lead six points over the Springbok Sevens (122), while the beaten finalists, New Zealand (123) moved past South Africa into second place. After winning their quarter-finals clash against the USA 28-0 early on Sunday morning in the Hong Kong National Stadium, the Blitzbokke were edged 12-7 by New Zealand in the semi-final.
The match went into sudden death, with the winners scoring in the second half of that. South Africa then beat Australia in the third place final 14-12. Meanwhile, Cecil Afrika extended his Springbok Sevens record for points in the series to 1044 and Seabelo Senatla moved to 12th on the all-time try scoring list with (139). Senatla (240) is the team’s top points scorer this season (third overall), followed by Justin Geduld (207, fifth overall).
The Blitzbokke will face Kenya, Scotland and Russia in pool C of the Singapore Sevens next weekend. The South Africans had Scotland and Russia in their pool in Hong Kong as well, winning 31-0 and 50-0 respectively.
Photo credit: Martin Seras Lima