Blitzboks Dubai 7s
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 07: Players of South Africa celebrate after winning the Men's Cup Final match between South Africa and New Zealand on Day Three of the the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series - Dubai at The Sevens Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)

With a quick look back at the latest leg of the HSBC Sevens Series, it was a positive Blitzboks Dubai result, with the Black Ferns 7s backing up well to earn their second win of the season.

The South African men held firm all week, as they topped the standings in the opening leg of the men’s World Series. In the Cup final, it was a near-perfect exhibition, with a great outcome to begin the year that sent the bench into rapture.

On the women’s draw, more drama was involved. Not in a Diva way, but with the eventual winners being outplayed by Canada to start with. In a direct from the front display, the North American girls played with a plan, and it took as much as the New Zealand team had, to hold onto the women in red.

How they were able to grasp the final opportunity is an illustration of everything, that is synonymous with sevens. Ball control, space, and speed, that allowed the Kiwis to use their territorial advantage. A tactic these ‘Sevens Sisters’ do better than most. And the Gayle Broughton game-breaker was to the delight, while still destroying the hopes of the Canadian women [this time].

Gayle Broughton of New Zealand is tackled by Kaili Lukan and Charity Williams of Canada during the Women’s Cup Final match between Canada and New Zealand on Day Three of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – Dubai at The Sevens Stadium on December 07, 2019 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

The fight that the Canadian defenders put in, also demonstrates the determination involved in the HSBC Sevens Series. Whether that is chasing down Seabolo Senatla (near impossible) or quick enough to foil a Kristi Kirshe counter-attack. The micro-seconds of reaction, in any match, is where the difference between winning and coming second best.

Blitzboks Dubai delight, as Black Ferns 7s rebound

Results aside to open with, the atmosphere and enjoyment of the fans, was obvious. From the midweek, invitational tournament, to the powerful opening day celebrations of the 2019 Dubai Sevens.

Fly-bys and fanfare, the Sevens Stadium is a place where the engagement of new and old rugby sevens supporters is unrivaled. 50 years will give you gravitas, but add in the action that followed, and Dubai is a sure bet for entertainment.

Men’s semifinals reveal best-prepared sides

Success from the start, was what every side wanted. On the men’s draw, it was a ‘perform and gain the rewards’. And with the instinct of every high-performing athlete, the big eight teams rightly made all the right moves.

If kudos can be given for their placing, then Samoa should be most pleased with their start. Winning against Australia was a mammoth accomplishment, and even though the Blitzboks swept both them and New Zealand aside, reaching the final eight is a confidence boost – especially when their home country is in the midst of a Measles epidemic.

England should also be delighted. Too often in the 2018/19 season, they were out of the running. So this is a good position to be when heading to Cape Town and a tournament they enjoy.

Women’s semifinals bringing the best to the surface

The top eight will rise to the surface. It’s the nature of knockout football. The three pools bring out the best in the core teams, with Spain and Fijiana rounding out the top sides.

The above four teams already look strong. With the Black Ferns 7s rebounding well, and the Canada women replacing their US neighbours as finalists. It was earned too, as their inspirational leader explained ‘on their day’. And that day might well be in South Africa, Hamilton, Australia,  or Hong Kong.

That is because over 10 legs, it will be difficult for any one side to dominate in the same way Australia did in 2017, or New Zealand in 2018. These days, to win any tournament takes tremendous drive and stamina – to win more than once in 2019/20 for any of the women’s teams, will need extra effort. For that reason, expect France, Russia or even Spain or Ireland, to complete a transformation and reach a final, or even better.

HSBC points standings to date

With just the single leg of the men’s series, the Blitzboks Dubai win gives them 22 valuable points. New Zealand collected 19, England 17 and Samoa get a huge jump with 15 points. That good start needs to be followed up, as the next four teams are still within reach, as the sides head to Cape Town.

See the draw for the Men’s teams here.

Playing in the same event for the second week running, the women hope to find that consistency, as backing-up is a key to the series title. The US team want to finish higher in the field, as will Australia, but the form of Canada has them in contention.

Many other accolades were awarded. The men’s Player of the Final was Rosko Specman, while Stacey Waaka shone for the Black Ferns 7s.

See the women’s draw for Cape Town here.

In the DHL Performance Tracker series, it sees the women perform to high standards. Waaka leads that, with Alev Kelter from Team USA, Emma Toneagto of Australia, Alena Mikhaltsova of Russia, Bianca Farella of Canada, as well as Kristi Kirshe from thehttps://lastwordonrugby.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=27842&action=edit# US.

The men’s table is only accounted from one tournament, and Specman tops the list. He is being chased by Jordan Conroy of Ireland, Justin Geduld of South Africa, Harry Glover of England, Joe Perez from Australia, with Johnston Olindi of Kenya has performed strongly.

 

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