‘Slow start cost us’

2015-02-09 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Springbok Sevens remain top of the Sevens World Series after finishing third at the Wellington Sevens in New Zealand, the fourth in the international series of eight ­tournaments.

The weekend tournament was won by the hosts, who defeated England in the final.

South Africa heads the log with 76 points halfway through the World Series, six points clear of New Zealand, who moved into second place. The top four sides on the log will gain automatic qualification into the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown admitted that his team were mentally slow to adapt to the pressures of the New Zealand tournament. He was pleased though that the side responded well under pressure on the second day of play.

“We had to maximise the points from this tournament after our slow start. I am pleased in the way we finished against Scotland, that was 14 minutes of good sevens rugby we played. There is still a lot to work on though if we want to ­improve in the USA,” Brown said.

“We came back well. We were in a dark hole after our poor showing on day one and the guys responded very well today [Saturday]. We know we are a capable team; the actual battle is the one in our heads. It is just a matter of getting our minds right and play the type of rugby that we know we can.”

Stalwart Frankie Horne, who extended his world record to 63 consecutive HSBC tournaments, also looked at the positive side of things.

“Make no mistake, we were shocked on day one, but we gradually improved and played much better. Our ­concentration lapsed in the final minutes against New Zealand and we paid the price. We are still pretty pleased with third place overall. It was pleasing to see the way the younger players responded when given a chance against Scotland. We now have some nice momentum ­going into Las Vegas.”

The Blitzbokke opened day two in convincing fashion by beating Kenya 19-5 in the Cup quarter-final. They came up short against New Zealand in the semi-

final though, losing 17-7 before rebounding strongly against Scotland, beating them 40-7 in the third place final.

Against Scotland, the log-leaders ­finally showed the form that brought them success in Dubai and South Africa.

They did concede a try soon after the start of the match, but raced away from Scotland in the remainder of the match. Leading 28-7 at the break, they scored two more times in the second half to win going away. Rayno Benjamin, Kyle Brown, Seabelo Senatla (2) and Warrick Gelant (2) scored tries, with Branco du Preez converting five of those.

•Defending champions New Zealand won their first title of the season, defeating England 27-21 in the Wellington final.

The draw for the next tournament, in Las Vegas, USA ,next weekend was also made. In Pool B, South Africa are joined by hosts USA, Portugal and Japan. New Zealand head Pool A and face Fiji, Wales and Samoa. England will meet Kenya, ­Argentina and Canada in Pool C and ­Brazil will play Scotland, Australia and France in Pool D.

The HSBC Sevens World Series standings after four tournaments are:

1. South Africa 76

2. New Zealand 69

3. Fiji 64

4. Australia 58

5. England 56

6. Argentina 47

7. Scotland 42

8. USA 36

9. Samoa 31

10. Wales 30

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