Blitzboks leading despite loss

Fiji’s Waisea Nacuqu (2nd R), tackled by South Africa’s Cecil Afrika (R), passes the ball to teammate Vatemo Ravouvou
Picture: Bobby Yip / Reuters

The Blitzboks remain firmly in control of the overall 2016/17 HSBC World Sevens Series standings after finishing as runners-up in Hong Kong yesterday.

Fiji captured their third consecutive Hong Kong title‚ beating the Blitzboks 22-0 in a one-sided game.

But just reaching the final was an achievement for the youthful SA team which went into the tournament without six of its regular starters.

Despite the defeat‚ by qualifying for their seventh final of the season‚ the Blitzboks earned 19 log points to move to 145 on the standings.

They started the weekend 23 points clear of England and ended it 23 points ahead of Fiji‚ who earned 22 log points for winning the final.

England lost to the USA in the quarterfinals and are now 32 points off the pace.

With only three rounds of the series remaining‚ the Blitzboks are edging closer to their second overall title after winning four tournaments this year.

Along the way to the Hong Kong final, the Blitzboks topped Pool B with wins over France‚ Kenya and Canada and they also saw off New Zealand 21-19 in the quarterfinal. They then needed an extra-time try‚ scored by Ruhan Nel‚ to overcome a spirited US 29-24 in the semifinal to make the Hong Kong final.

It was the fourth time in history that SA had made the final of the most prestigious tournament on the circuit – two of the previous had also been against Fiji – and the other against New Zealand.

But Fiji’s physicality and speed was just too much for the Blitzboks‚ who looked a step off the pace after their tight semi- and quarterfinal matches.

Fiji‚ the reigning series champions and current Olympic champions‚ punished SA’s numerous handling and passing errors to claim their 17th Hong Kong crown since 1976.

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