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Table-topping Boks look ahead to Las Vegas
- Updated: February 7, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Despite being knocked out at the Cup semi-finals stage of the IRB Sevens Series in Wellington, the Blitzboks will still head for Las Vegas as table-toppers.
The Blitzboks lost to host nation New Zealand 7-17 in the semi-finals but bounced back to sink surprise package Scotland 40-7 in the third-fourth place play-off on Saturday.
After going down 7-0 within 45 seconds, courtesy of a James Fleming try, the South Africans went on to score 40 unanswered points for an emphatic end to the tournament.
That saw them leaving Wellington on the long haul to Las Vegas, always a happy hunting ground for Neil Powell’s squad, still leading the series.
Even though New Zealand beat England 27-21 in the Cup final, South Africa will still have a seven point cushion heading to the casino city in this crucial year before the codes’ Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro.
It was fitting that captain Kyle Brown back at last – after first undergoing shoulder surgery after winning Commonwealth gold in Glasgow last year and then another golden moment in his personal life as he tied the knot – scoring first for the Blitzboks right after Fleming’s score.
Then it was the turn of tournament debutant Warrick Gelant after Ryno Benjamin had ripped the ball clear from a Scottish opponent during broken play.
Scotland’s Darren Gillespie was then yellow-carded for a neck-high tackle and it was speedster Seabelo Senatla who soon found space to go straight through the middle and he did the same thing seconds later to see the Blitzboks disappearing over the horizon at 28-7 at half-time.
Gelant then made it try number five after Brown had set up an opportunity from a line-out and then in the dying seconds it was Benjamin who made it six of the best from a penalty.
Skipper Brown took heart from the Blitzboks’s improved performance.
‘We just started off too slowly here in Wellington. But it was good to see the guys getting better and better as the tournament got on and the structures all fell into place.
‘Now we’ve got a long flight to Las Vegas where we can build on what’s happened here.’