Blitzbokke demolish NZ to win Vegas 7s
Paul Treu’s Springbok Sevens side showed incredible passion and resolve, scoring six tries as they demolished reigning World Champions New Zealand 40-21 to win the Las Vegas Sevens.
After a disappointing tournament in Wellington last weekend, the Blitzbokke bounced back with new resolve and new inspiration as they used the smaller playing field to their advantage and powered their way through the competition to set up the final with their old foes.
The field – 59 metres wide instead of the normal 70 – worked to their advantage as they played an exceptional tactical game, keeping the ball alive and moving it through the hands by probing with angles instead of trying to find the outside ball.
And while they moved unnoticed through their pool rounds, taking care of Wellington finalists Kenya, Treu’s side served notice early on Saturday morning when they beat World Cup holders Wales in a one-sided contest.
In the late hours of Sunday night (SA time), they needed an extra-time try by Seabelo Seatla to narrowly beat Samoa 12-7 in a tough and physical contest, then turned it on in the final against a side that has so often been their nemesis.
But the Blitzbokke blitzed the All Blacks with an attack they rarely had time to absorb, running in four first half-tries to leave the Kiwis shell-shocked.
It was Warren Whiteley who opened the scoring after burrowing over from close range, and he was followed onto the scoresheet by a brace of tries by Chris Dry, who remains the Blitzbokke’s player of the season thus far.
Branco du Preez celebrated his return with a try just before the halftime whistle to leave the South Africans 28-0 up at the break.
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The Blitzbokke added another just after the break when Du Preez pounced on a New Zealand mistake and got a hand on the ball as it fumbled across the goalline.
The inevitable All Black fightback would come and looked on when Ben Lam bounced Du Preez off him to score the first try for the All Blacks, but Stephan Dippenaar replied in kind to put the game beyond the All Blacks.
While Tim Mikkelson and Gillies Kaka both scored to add some respectability to New Zealand’s total, the Blitzbokke were just too far ahead and sealed off the title – their first since Edinburgh in 2011.
In winning the tournament, the Blitzbokke became the fifth different winner in as many tournaments on the HSBC World Series circuit this year.
Treu was ecstatic with the victory.
"We haven't had this feeling for a while now, it's a while since we last won a Cup, so this is well deserved," Treu told the IRB news service.
"We put all the hard work in back in Stellenbosch, and every win gives you more confidence and hopefully we can build on this to use as a platform for the rest of the season.
"The team must enjoy every moment of this win."
Veteran Paul Delport was overcome with emotion at his side’s passion.
"There are no words, it was just tremendous fight from the boys," added Delport. "We said what happened last week, we would never forget that feeling because we set such high standards for ourselves, but we knew we had to come out and perform and we did."
Horne, who captained the side in the injured Kyle Brown's absence, said: "I am pretty stoked. The guys showed a lot of heart and it means a lot for us. We had a lot of injuries, but the guys that came in stepped up to the plate, they brought their bit to the party, and it was a great party at the end of the day."
The win moves the Blitzbokke into second spot on the World rankings, still some distance behind New Zealand, who have 96 points to South Africa’s 73.
Samoa, meanwhile, claimed third place with a dramatic 36-31 victory over Fiji, surrendering an early lead only to win in sudden death with Robert Lilomaiava scoring the winning try.
Canada won the Plate with a 22-5 win over Scotland. Tries from Nanyak Dala, Conor Trainor and a 20th career try for John Moonlight lifted Canada, who had edged the United States 24-19 in the Plate semifinals.
"It feels amazing, we have the home crowd support, the guys are playing well," said Canada captain Nanyak Dala.
France won the Bowl with a 17-12 win over Argentina, with tries from Terry Brouhroua, Renaud Delmas and Vincent Deniau.
Additional reporting by Sapa-AFP