New Zealand give SA problems again

Matthew Hood of Australia (l) and teammate Simon Kennewell of Australia (r) combine to tackle Regan Ware of New Zealand during day 1 of the 2017 HSBC Cape Town Sevens at Cape Town Stadium on 9 December 2017.
Matthew Hood of Australia (l) and teammate Simon Kennewell of Australia (r) combine to tackle Regan Ware of New Zealand during day 1 of the 2017 HSBC Cape Town Sevens at Cape Town Stadium on 9 December 2017.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

New Zealand are back as World Sevens Series contenders after three seasons without the title after winning the Cape Town Sevens on Sunday.

Despite a shock 22-0 loss against the USA in their opening game of the weekend‚ NZ powered their way through to the final where they beat Argentina 38-14 in a disappointingly one-sided match.

NZ moved to the top of the overall standings on 41 points with their victory in Cape Town‚ after finishing as runners-up to the Blitzboks in Dubai last weekend.

They have also laid down an early marker that they are back as force in sevens rugby after Fiji and SA won the last three World Series titles.

“We are over the moon and I’m so proud of how the guys played‚ not only this weekend but also the way we played in Dubai‚” NZ captain Scott Curry said.

“The thing about sevens is that day two is a new day and you start afresh‚ and we worked for each other‚ which won those three games for us today.”

The Blitzboks picked up the bronze medal with hard fought 19-17 win over Canada after the disappointment of losing 19-12 to the Kiwis in the semi-final and are second on the standings on 39 points as the series heads into a festive season break.

Sunday was a difficult day for the home team who faced Fiji in a tricky quarterfinal encounter‚ which they eventually won 31-26‚ despite trailing 21-5 moment before halftime.

Star wing Seabelo Senatla was both villain and hero against Fiji the day after he became the fastest man to 200 tries in Series history‚ achieving the feat in his 35th tournament. He reached the milestone in 16 fewer tournaments than England’s Dan Norton.

Against Fiji Senatla scored the winning try seconds from the end after Justin Geduld ripped the ball from a Fijian carrier. There was an element of fortune as the ball appeared to go forward but Senatla hacked ahead and collected to score his second try of the match.

Earlier the Blitzboks’ record try-scorer was yellow carded in the first minute for a high tackle on his tryline and a penalty try followed for Fiji‚ which immediately put the home team on the back foot.

The Blitzboks only led for the first time when Senatla scored 20 seconds from end‚ which set up a salivating clash against their old foes.

But their excursions in a tough last eight match took its toll in the semi-final against New Zealand as they ran out of steam in the dying moments of the game.

SA led 12-7 at the break after tries from Philip Snyman and Branco du Preez but a late try by NZ’s Joe Webber‚ their third of the match‚ was enough to see them over the line in a contest where they also survived a yellow card against Joe Ravouvou.

It ruined what had been a vibrant atmosphere at the superb Cape Town stadium‚ which saw thousands of fans stream to the exit after the home team’s chances of winning were extinguished.

SA versus Canada

Scorers:

SA – Tries: Siviwe Soyizwapi‚ Ruhan Nel‚ Rosko Specman. Conversions: Justin Geduld (2).

Canada – Tries: Harry James‚ Nathan Hirayama (2). Conversion: Hirayama.

Scorers:

SA versus NZ

SA – Tries: Philip Snyman‚ Cecil Afrika. Conversion: Branco du Preez.

NZ – Tries: Tim Mikkelson‚ Vilimoni Koroi‚ Joe Webber. Conversions: Koroi‚ Andrew Knewstubb.

SA versus Fiji

SA – Tries: Werner Kok‚ Justin Geduld‚ Seabelo Senatla (2)‚ Kwagga Smith. Conversions: Cecil Afrika‚ Geduld.

Fiji – Tries: Penalty Try‚ Waisea Nacuqu‚ Josua Vakurunabili‚ Kalione Nasoko. Conversions: Nacuqu‚ Vatemo Ravouvou.

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