South Africa out to reach fifth straight World Series final in Tokyo
South Africa will try to reach their fifth straight HSBC Sevens World Series final and inch ahead of reigning series champions New Zealand when they defend their Tokyo crown this weekend.
With four tournaments left, including next week's Hong Kong Sevens, it could hardly be tighter at the top with New Zealand leading the Springbok Sevens or "BlitzBokke" by just two points.
And South Africa coach Neil Powell promised his side would respond after a 21-0 hammering by New Zealand in last month's Wellington final.
"We will fall back on the guys that were here last year," said Powell, boosted by the return of prolific try scorer Seabelo Senatla from injury. "We mustn't get too caught up on the table and the points because we will put too much pressure on ourselves.
"It is all about the process and, if we do the things well on the field, the outcomes will look after themselves."
South Africa beat New Zealand in both the Las Vegas and Port Elizabeth finals, and after the two sides also met in the Wellington decider, the table has a distinctly top-heavy feel.
But Powell also warned said Dubai winners Fiji, currently third but 26 points off the lead, and fourth-placed England both posed a threat in the Japanese capital.
"Fiji is a great team and England are playing some good rugby," he said.
"If we or New Zealand slip up, other sides will have a chance so it's important to … reach at least the semi-finals here and next week in Hong Kong."
South Africa have produced some sparkling performances this season in the short-form game, which will make its debut at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Having reached the last four finals, they have been drawn alongside Argentina, Kenya and Japan in pool B in Tokyo.