The Springbok Sevens team may have missed out on securing the HSBC Singapore Sevens title on Sunday, but did enough to extend their overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series lead over nearest rivals, Fiji and England.
The Blitzboks finished sixth overall, but a number of surprising results saw them extend their lead overall with only tournaments in Paris and London left to play.
South Africa started the Singapore tournament 23 points ahead of Fiji in second place and now lead them by 25 points, courtesy of a crucial win over the Olympic champions in the fifth place semi-final. England, who finished third, moved closer to Fiji, but are still 27 points adrift of the Blitzboks.
‘Yes, that win over Fiji was a vital one and one of the success stories of this tournament for us. By beating them in that crucial match, we could actually extend our lead over them, which is a massive bonus for us,’ Powell explained.
‘We could also blood a number of youngsters, giving them proper game time and there don’t seem to be any real injury concerns. Those are all positives.’
Powell was not too happy with their Sunday performance though, which saw them lose to Australia 19-17 in the Cup quarter-final, before beating Fiji 19-14 in the fifth place semi-final. They were edged by New Zealand for fifth spot though, losing 17-12.
Canada won their first ever title in the series by beating USA 26-19 in the final. Powell was not surprised by this. ‘A lot of teams seem to battle to pick up their performances after Hong Kong. We also saw it last year when Kenya won their first ever title here and this time it happened to Canada.
‘It’s a tough tournament to play and we did not perform the way we wanted. We did extend our series lead though and that could prove pretty important.’
The team arrive back in South Africa on Tuesday morning and Powell admits that some hard work awaits the squad before the last two tournaments in Paris (13-14 May) and London (20-21 May).
South Africa will play in pool A alongside Singapore winners Canada, Scotland and Japan.
‘We have some work to do that is for sure. We made too many mistakes in certain areas, but there is nothing hard work cannot fix,’ said Powell.
The standings after eight round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series are:
1 South Africa 157
2 Fiji 132
3 England 130
4 New Zealand 110
6 Australia 94
7 Canada 76
8 Argentina 72
9 Scotland 68
10 Wales 61
Siviwe Soyizwapi was top scorer for South Africa with 35 points, with seven tries.
Chris Dry (129) and Philip Snyman (126) still lead the overall standings for tackles made.
Cecil Afrika added 18 points to this South African record for career points in the World Series. His tally of 1256 is ninth on the all-time list. He also scored his 150th try in the series, one of only 10 players to do so.
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