Blitzbokke stopped in Wellington Sevens final

10 February 2014

South Africa’s attempt to win a third HSBC Sevens World Series title in succession was ended by New Zealand in the final of the Wellington Sevens on Saturday, with the Kiwis defeating the Blitzbokke 21-0 in the Cup final.

The All Black Sevens snapped a five-match Cup final losing streak against the Springbok Sevens and also moved back to the top of the World Series standings on 99 points, just two clear of South Africa.

Fourth successive final

Earlier on Saturday, coach Neil Powell’s team qualified for their fourth successive tournament final this season thanks to identical 10-0 wins over Australia and Fiji in the quarterfinals and semi-finals respectively.

A clinical, strong performance by New Zealand in the first half of the final effectively sealed the match for them on a slippery and wet surface inside the Westpac Stadium. They enjoyed a 21-0 halftime lead, thanks to three converted tries through Tim Mikkelson and Sherwin Stowers (2).

The hosts lost their opening group match on Friday against Fiji, but then went on a scoring spree to win all their remaining matches, scoring 178 points in the process without conceding any.

Brilliant tactical display

The Springbok Sevens produced a brilliant tactical display to outwit the dangerous Fijians in their semi-final clash. However, in the Cup final, the New Zealanders turned the tables on the Boks with powerful play at the breakdown and solid defence in the midfield.

The South Africans forced a string of penalties in the last quarter of the match, but unforced errors and wrong options meant it was not going to be their day.

‘The guys responded well’

Although he admitted that the Cup final loss against New Zealand hurt a lot, Powell had some encouraging words for his squad after the tournament: “We had a hard, honest team talk on Friday evening after our loss against England [in pool play] and I am glad the guys responded and reacted well against Australia and Fiji,” he said.

Powell he was happy with the overall performances of his squad in Las Vegas and Wellington. “We are very pleased to have played in two Cup final and to return home with one title after a very tough three week tour,” Powell said.

Injuries

His attacking options were a little limited on the last day of action in Wellington, said Powell, with Stephan Dippenaar and Justin Geduld both ruled out with knee injuries. They will both be assessed in Stellenbosch on Monday.

Fiji edged out last year’s tournament winners England in a thriller to claim third place 14-7, while a last gasp kick handed Australia the plate 12-10 over a gritty Canada . Paul Treu’s Kenya lifted the Bowl after beating Scotland 24-24 while the USA defeated Spain 28-12 to win the Shield final.

The pools draw for the Tokyo Sevens on 22 – 23 March is:

 

  • Group A: New Zealand, Canada, Wales, Portugal
  • Group B: South Africa, Argentina, Kenya, Japan
  • Group C: Fiji, Samoa, France, USA
  • Group D: England, Australia, Scotland, Spain

 

HSBC Sevens World Series Standings

    • New Zealand 99
    • South Africa 97
    • Fiji 73
    • England 68
    • Australia 59
    • Samoa 57
    • Argentina 53
    • Kenya 47
    • Canada 43
    • France 38

SAinfo reporter and SA Rugby