IRB Sevens Series: Cape Town Preview

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

South Africa Sevens | 12-13 December | Cape Town Stadium

After a poor showing in Dubai, the Blitzbokke now have the chance to kick-start their season in their backyard when the sevens circuit roles into Cape Town for the first time. They will have their work cut out however as they're likely to take on a rampant Fijian side at some point in the tournament.

To Win Outright
Fiji 7/4
South Africa 7/4
New Zealand 4/1

They came, they saw, they conquered. That pretty much sums up Fiji's display at last week's tournament in Dubai. The men from the Pacific were in all-conquering form as they got their 2015/16 campaign off to the most positive of starts. They managed to rack up a staggering 112 points in their three pool fixtures - 64 of these came in their match against Canada - while only conceding 31. They then defeated Australia in the Cup quarter-final by 19 points to 12 and followed that up with a 12 point victory over New Zealand as they marched to the final.

One of the surprise packages of the tournament, England, were brought back down to earth in the final by the expansive Fijians. While the Roses weren't completely embarrassed the Fijians didn't really need to get out of second gear as they cantered to an 11 point victory.

With a tournament title already under their belts, Ben Ryan's charges will travel to Cape Town in buoyant mood. This is a tournament they haven't had as much success in as they'd like. The last time the Islanders won a tournament held in South Africa was a decade ago. However, with the form they are in I wouldn't put it past the Fijians marking the 10th anniversary of that victory with another win on South African shores.

Pool Opponents: Argentina, Scotland, Russia

South Africa
The host nation will be looking to bounce back from their underwhelming performance that featured a shock defeat to America in the Cup quarter-final. While the Blitzbokke did manage to salvage some pride last weekend by winning the Plate final; that trophy will probably feel as hollow as an empty box.

While the whole squad under-performed in Dubai, the fifteens converts were probably the most unimpressive of the bunch. Juan de Jongh struggled to make a real impact and looked rather sluggish. Cheslin Kolbe was the only real convert to make an impact, with the diminutive Western Province fullback showing that he may well be able to fill the role of playmaker while Cecil Afrika remains sidelined

Youngster Dylan Sage and former junior Shark Rosco Speckman have been brought into the squad for this week's tournament. The duo are likely to add some spark to an uninspired looking Blitzbokke side.

Neil Powell's charges have a history of doing well at their own tournament. They've won the last two events they have hosted.

Pool Opponents: England, Kenya, Zimbabwe

New Zealand
A slew of injuries picked up on the first day of the last weeks tournament effectively ended New Zealand's hopes of reigning supreme in Dubai. The All Blacks will now come into the Cape Town tournament with a severely depleted squad. Newly installed skipper Scott Curry is out with a dislocated shoulder while Gillies Kaka will also be sidelined due to an ankle injury.

I was a bit premature when I said Sonny Bill Williams, Liam Messam and Ardie Savea would be joining the All Blacks sevens set up last week. The trio will only join up with the squad at the Wellington tournament which follows the Cape Town tournament.

With their fifteens converts yet to join and their changing room resembling a hospital ward, it's going to take a minor miracle for New Zealand to get anything out of this tournament.

Pool Opponents: Samoa, France, Canada

Verdict: South Africa
My money is on the Blitzbokke making it three successive tournament victories in their own backyard this weekend.

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