Mission Cape Town next for Dubai Sevens champions

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - South Africa (green) were in full flow against New Zealand during the men's final of Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens on Saturday. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Al Khaleej Today

Dubai: South Africa and New Zealand, men and women’s champions in Dubai, left the emirate with the intent of even better performances at next weekend’s stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Cape Town, South Africa.

South Africa thwarted New Zealand forwards from scoring only for the second time in two decades for a 15-0 result in the men’s final after the New Zealand women had become the only team to ever successfully defend their crown here with a hard-fought 17-14 win over Canada.

“The most important thing at this moment for us to ensure the players recover sufficiently in time for Cape Town,” South African coach Neil Powell told media after tries from Siviwe Soyizwapi, Chris Dry and Seabelo Senatla had floored the reigning champions.

“We can obviously do a lot of things better, but for the time-being I’m happy with the solid start to the season. Defensively these guys put up a really big effort out there. Perhaps it wasn’t always perfect in terms of what they needed to implement, but I compliment their effort,” Powell added.

Saturday’s win in the men’s competition was the seventh for the Blitzboks as the Dubai tournament marked its golden jubilee this year. New Zealand are second on the list with six titles in Dubai.

“I think for us it was just a case of the experienced and younger guys blending in together with a common aim. This took time, and perhaps that was the reason for those slow starts against Kenya. But after that, every time we entered the pitch we made a step up and played more as a team,” Powell admitted.

“It’s our home tournament next weekend. but we need to have a look at the injuries and see what we can do with some of the players from the invitational side as well. For the time-being, we need to keep our feet on the ground and keep on working hard,” he added.

New Zealand women’s skipper Tyla Nathan-Wong could not contain the sense of pride and excitement. “It’s an incredible feeling to soak in such a lovely win on the biggest stage. Pride is what I feel at this moment,” she admitted.

“We love this tournament and we came here to have fun and win. We trusted each other and backed each other. Stacey Waaka has been amazing and I look forward to seeing her improving in the next one in Cape Town,” she added.

Standing in place of injured captain Sarah Hirini, Nathan-Wong was at the heart of the New Zealand defence to ensure the Black Ferns successfully defended the title they won here 12 months ago. Also missing through injuries were regular speedsters Portia Woodman and Michaela Blyde.

“This speaks about the incredible depth that we have. We are always pushing each other and making each other better. You never know how long or when you will get a chance to wear the black jersey. All these girls made us all so proud,” Nathan-Wong said.

The next round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will be held in Cape Town, South Africa from December 13-15.

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