Dubai Sevens 2017: Blitzboks Reclaim HSBC Sevens Series Opener

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Day Three - Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens: HSBC Sevens World Series
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 02: Players of South Africa pose for photos with the trophy after winning the Cup Final match between South Africa and New Zealand on Day Three of the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens - HSBC Sevens World Series at The Sevens Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

South Africa reclaimed the Dubai Sevens 2017 title in style, beating New Zealand 24-12. It ended three-days of mouth watering, breathtaking action at The 7evens Stadium, Dubai. 

Australia won the Women’s title, to defy to predictions of many that New Zealand would continue their strong form. It was a great tournament for both men and women, as we kickoff another busy rugby sevens International season.

(Read more about the Women’s tournament below)

Plenty of stars were unearthed during the Emirates Airlines Dubai Sevens. From Maurice Longbottom of Australia, to Darcy Graham of Scotland. Tavite Veredamu of France showed his promise, to Darren Kellett Moore of Samoa.

On the other hand, Paige McGrgor shined with Australia in the Women’s draw, together with Tausani Levave of Canada.

As well as new stars, the leading lights showed their form. New Zealand reaching their highest finish in some time. England took the bronze, with Australia coming in fifth.

Kwagga Smith won the HSBC ‘Player of the Final’. as the phenomenal Seabelo Senatla and graceful Alamada Motuga of Samoa, shared top ‘DHL Impact Player’ honours. But as is the game of sevens, it is a team sport.

“Its never about the individual but always about the team” Neill Powell told worldrugby.

Dubai Sevens 2017: The LOWDOWN

South Africa 24 New Zealand 12

New Zealand started the final with a player in the bin which Rosko Specman pounced on, South Africa was up 7-0. Blitzboks began towing with the opposition and started dictating terms. Werner Kok used his class to put Seabelo Senatla away to double the lead 14-0.

South Africa were up by 19-0 before Joe Ravouvou could return from the bin. Kwagga Smith showing his extra-dimensional skills, but no further points could be added from either team, as they went to the breather leading 19-0.

Just like New Zealand in the opening half, Rosko Specman was sent to the bin. Andrew Kneewstub pounced for the Kiwis 19-7. Scott Curry grabbed a captains try, to trail 19-12 before the killer-blow from the Boks.

Werner Kok of South Africa in action during the Cup Final match between South Africa and New Zealand on Day Three. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Tim Agaba nailed the final try to give the defending champs the victory. Post match, the Blitzbok captain showed he was still looking for improvement. “We kind of let them back into the game and a silly yellow card and one or two silly mistakes towards the end, it almost cost us.”

Blitzboks Show they are Still an Elite 7s Squad

“It was a long pre-season and a lot of guys went on to play some XVs so it’s a new team with some unfamiliar faces,” Philip Snyman told worldrugby.org.com

“We want to focus on our processes.”

Like South Africa will, New Zealand will take a lot out of their performance here. Like Samoa, they showed glimpses of the past; which the Kiwis are renowned for. Decisive, clinical and ruthless in every facet of play – especially in pool play. Reaching a final with close wins over Argentina and Kenya was pleasing to see. ‘Just playing for the cup’ is a positive for Clark Laidlaw’s men.

South Africa are just too efficient, and can go two-from-two at home, in the next leg of the world series in Cape Town.

England take Bronze at Dubai Sevens 2017

The English fought ‘tooth and nail’ to beat Fiji 28-19 to take the bronze medal. The experience of England carried them through, with the formiddable Tom Mitchell coming off the bench to help close-out the game. Both sides displayed great sevens rugby over the last two days. England will try to defend their 2016 title in Cape Town next weekend.

Fiji needs to look at their defensive patterns and be more committed with their tackles. Injury worries have also affected the Fijians, so squad depth will be tested.

Australia stops Resurrected Samoa for Fifth Place

Samoa raced away to an early 10-0 lead, before the Aussies leveled the game up with a James Stannard special. They went toe-to-toe, before Lachie Anderson nailed the winner 22-17, to Australia.

The South Sea Islanders played one of their best tournaments in a long, long while. The Sir Gordon Tietjens coached side were more clinical, aggressive and ruthless and only just lost out [narrowly]. Samoa will grow from this – watch out for them in Cape Town!

Alamanda Motuga of Samoa is tackled by Maurice Longbottom of Australia during the match between Australia and Samoa. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Scotland were outstanding too, narrowly losing in some close encounters; especially against Fiji in the Cup quarterfinals. On the other hand, Kenya too looked very promising in their narrow loss to New Zealand.

Dubai Sevens 2017 Men’s Results;

  • The French had to dug deep to beat the well groomed Spanish side 21-12 for the Championship Trophy. Debutant Tavite Veredamu was the toast of the French side, as he was instrumental in their last try.
  • United States were the worst performing men’s side of the tourney, not winning any of their games. They need to regroup and think hard before heading to Cape Town next weekend. The women’s team can be an inspiration to the men (see below).
  • Uganda continues to grow and will be a threat in the not-so distant future. They will be happy with what they have archived especially Solomon Okia, who was in top try-scoring form.

Cup Quarterfinals – South Africa 26 Samoa 10 | Fiji 35 Scotland 24 | New Zealand 14 Kenya 12 | England 26 Australia 19

Championship Trophy Quarterfinals – Canada 5 USA 5 | Wales 17 France 24 | Argentina 26 Uganda 7 | Spain 31 Russia 0

World Rugby Sevens Series Accolades:

HSBC Sport Player of the Final

HSBC Dubai Sevens Dream Team

HSBC 2017/18 Sevens Series Table: Round One

 

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Aussie Women Walk Away With Dubai Title

Australia 34 United States 0

The Australian girls put on a fantastic sevens rugby show and shredded the United States into pieces in the final. They were ruthless, with HSBC ‘Player of the Final’ Emma Tonegato opening the scoring.

Sharni Williams (see below) followed-up, with Evania Pelite – who was the Player of the Tournament – grabbing the other. Emilee Cherry added another more US pain in the second half. To cap off a huge night for Australia, a double from Dom Du Toit rounded off the Americans fate. 34-0!

It was not all bad news for Team USA. Alev Kelter was leading the charge over Day One and Two, and the US women created the biggest upset of the tourney. The beat a star-studded Black Ferns Sevens side.

After being well beaten by New Zealand in pool play, Team USA laid on a 14-12 victory that set up a semifinal with Russia; which they won 21-12.

On their way to the Dubai Sevens 2017 title, Australia defeated England in the Cup quarters before seeing off Canada in the semifinals 25-7, in another one-sided affair.

The Aussies have laid the platform going into their home tournament, the Sydney Sevens leg where a crucial World Cup seeding is at stake. A good finish in the opening two rounds, guarantees a favorable seeding.

For 2016/17 champions New Zealand, they must respond positively–or they might have a tougher draw in San Francisco.

In other results….

  • Russia defeated Canada 5-0 to take the bronze.
  • A double from Amee Leigh Murphy-Crowe of Ireland helped her side defeat South Africa 24-7.
  • New Zealand finished fifth with France, Spain and England following.
  • However, Fijiana was the biggest disappointing women’s side of the tourney, winning only one of their five matches. They finished fourth last season but were disastrous in the last two days. Plenty work is needed, heading into Sydney.

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Next stop on the HSBC Sevens Series is in Cape Town, South Africa. The men’s champions will hope to carry on their winning ways – although in 2016, England did upset the hosts. Could this happen again? Are New Zealand due a tournament victory?

The women must wait until the New Year, but expect all sides to stay away from the festive foods, as they are professional in their approach; as are the men.

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