IRB Sevens World Series
South Africa beat New Zealand in Las Vegas final
January 27, 2014
Branco du Preez tackles Waisake Naholo in the Las Vegas Cup final © Getty Images
South Africa have recorded their second successive tournament victory in the IRB Sevens World Series in Las Vegas, the Blitzbokke defeating New Zealand 14-7 in the decider at Sam Boyd Stadium to leap-frog the All Blacks Sevens atop the standings.
New Zealand are now without a win in five tournaments in Las Vegas, where South Africa retained the title after a conceding an early try from Scott Curry to score a converted try in each half, from Branco du Preez and Werner Kok. The Blitzbokke impressed throughout the tournament, and they were deserving back-to-back champions having conceded just 14 points in their six matches - the fewest in history by a Cup winner.
Blitzbokke coach Neil Powell said the victory was "well deserved for the players".
"They work hard back home and it is all credit to their them," he said. "The guts, the commitment it is unbelievable. We really work hard on our defensive structures, and even the smaller guys like Cecil [Afrika] and Branco throw themselves into the tackles and punch well above their body weight."
New Zealand's defeat was just another disappointment for them in Las Vegas, as they contested the final without Sam Dickson after he was handed a nine-match ban for eye-gouging in the pool stage win over Fiji. They also had George Tilsley suspended for two matches for a tip tackle, although he was free to play in the final after sitting out the 24-7 quarter-final defeat of England and the 26-7 win over surprise packets Canada in the semi-final.
Dickson's suspension means he will miss the New Zealand leg of the World Series in Wellington.
Canada rallied to shock Samoa 22-19 for third place, the best finish in a World Series tournament. Samoa led 12-0 early, but Canada fought back and won through Phil Mack, named in the Las Vegas Dream Team, who scored a penalty drop goal with the last play of the match.
Canada coach Geraint John said: "I thought we played really well. The second-half performance, the restarts, you have to give everyone compliments. Finishing third in the world, it is not often you can say that. With a lot of high-school teams here, hopefully it will give them encouragement and give our players a little bit of a spotlight, which is brilliant and they deserve every spotlight they get."
England defeated Australia 26-24 in the Plate final, after Tom Mitchell added 11 points to his World Series-leading tally. England had booked their place in the final with a 21-12 win over France, while Australia qualified in dramatic fashion when Peter Schuster scored a try in sudden-death extra-time after they and Argentina had been locked at 19-all at full-time.
Fiji defeated Kenya 35-0 in the Bowl final, with five different try scorers having previously defeat Wales 40-12 in their semi-final with six different scorers. Kenya made the final with a 21-7 victory over Scotland.
United States defeated Spain 31-0 in the Shield final, with Zack Test scoring two tries to the delight of the home crowd. They had made the final with a 28-14 victory against Uruguay, featuring two tries from Test and another from Carlin Isles, while Spain had beaten Portugal 19-12.
South Africa now lead the Sevens World Series standings with 78 points, one clear of defending champions New Zealand followed by Fiji (56) and England (53).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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