South Africa Retain Sevens World Series Lead Despite Hong Kong Final Loss
The Springbok Sevens team, known as the Blitzboks, maintained their decisive lead at the top of the HSBC Rugby Sevens World Series standings, despite their loss to Fiji in the final of the Hong Kong Sevens tournament on Sunday.
The South Africans are yet to win the sevens title at the Hong Kong National Stadium, despite their dominance in other competition and their great run to the final this weekend.
They lost the final 22-0 to Olympic champions Fiji, failing to reproduce the form that earned them a place in the final, but they can be pleased with the fact that it was their seventh consecutive final of the 2016-17 season, ensuring that they kept some distance between second-placed Fiji and third-placed England in the standings.
South Africa came into the tournament with a 23-point margin over England in second and 26 over Fiji in third and will depart with that lead intact, as the Fijians take over second spot from the English.
The Sevens World Series is closing in on the final few tournaments, with competitions in Singapore, Paris and London remaining before the season is complete.
Fiji’s win moved them into second place, 23 points behind the Blitzboks, with England losing ground in third, now 32 points behind the leaders in third place.
Blitzboks coach Neil Powell will be disappointed at the collapse that was witnessed in the final against the Fijians, with the South Africans committing too many uncharacteristic unforced errors to a technically gifted Pacific team.
The Blitzboks secured a seventh consecutive final in the Sevens World Series by beating USA 29-24 in extra time in the semi-finals. Before that entertaining encounter, the South Africans showed their mental strength by edging New Zealand 21-19 in the quarter-finals.
In the previous day’s play, the Blitzboks defeated Kenya and France to secure their passage to the knockout rounds of the competition in Hong Kong.
The World Series standings after seven tournaments:
1. South Africa 145
2. Fiji 122
3. England 113
4. New Zealand 97
5. USA 82
6. Australia 79
7. Argentina 69
8. Scotland 61
9. Canada 54
10. Wales 53
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