HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2016-17

South Africa beat Fiji to notch fourth tournament win out of five as Hong Kong Sevens approaches

The Blitzboks are in irresistible form ahead of next month’s flagship tournament

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 10:20am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 10:05pm

With the Hong Kong Sevens fast approaching, South Africa look nailed-on favourites for the title after notching their fourth win of the season from five tournaments in Las Vegas with a 19-12 triumph over Fiji.

With tries from Chris Dry, Cecil Afrika and Rosko Specman South Africa denied Fiji a third straight Las Vegas crown. Fiji, the Olympic champions, remain in search of a first victory of the season, although they moved into second place in the standings led by South Africa on 107 points.

Fiji – now coached by former Hong Kong coach Gareth Baber – leapfrogged England to stand second on 83 points, England dropping to third on 81 as the series heads to Vancouver next weekend then to Hong Kong for the World Sevens Series flagship event on April 7-9.

This time around, South Africa powered to the title without Seabelo Senatla, crowned player of the final in both Wellington and Sydney before leaving the Blitzboks for Super Rugby duty.

Man of the match honours went to Specman, who said he owed a debt to his teammates – and offered a shout-out to Senatla.

“It feels fantastic to win, but the team is doing the hard work,” he said. “I think maybe it’s lucky number 11. I am wearing the shirt from Seabelo, maybe it is giving me that little bit of extra speed!”

South Africa captain Philip Snyman said the victory at blustery Sam Boyd Stadium was the most difficult of the season against a Fiji side out to avenge defeats in Dubai and Wellington.

“Fiji wanted to get one back over us but credit to the boys,” he said. “Now we go to cooler conditions in Vancouver and hopefully we can continue with the form we are in.”

Both finalists had to fight back for semi-final wins.

Fiji were 14 points down in the first half against New Zealand but roared back with 19 unanswered points for a 19-14 triumph.

South Africa were in an early 12-0 hole against the United States but rallied to beat the hosts 20-17.

The United States recovered from that disappointment to beat New Zealand 19-15 for third place, reaching the podium for the first time in their home tournament.