Our in-house rugby scribe takes a look at the betting for the fourth leg of the 2016/17 World Sevens, which gets underway in Sydney on Saturday morning.
Another virtuoso performance from the Blitzboks saw them wrap up the Wellington leg of the Sevens world tour. Neil Powell’s men have now opened up a 12 point gap at the top of the World Series Standings. The South African mentor will be hoping his charges can further extend that gap by winning the Sydney Sevens.
Sydney Sevens | Saturday 4 February – Sunday 5 February | Allianz Stadium
To Win Outright
South Africa 17/20 | Fiji 5/2 | New Zealand 5/1 | England 11/2
Pool Opponents: England, Japan and Kenya
It’s not often that you beat the undisputed master’s of Sevens by more than 15 points. So to beat them by a margin in excess of 15 points twice in the space 30 odd hours takes something special. And this Blitzbok side certainly is something special. What is even more remarkable is that they achieved this without playmaker Cecil Afrika, who is also sidelined for Sydney.
As I mentioned in the Wellington preview, this will be the final week that Seabelo Senatla, Kwagga Smith and Werner Kok will turn out for the Blitzboks this year. With these three star players on their way out, Powell will once again be desperate for his side to claim the maximum points.
Pool Opponents: France, Samoa and Wales
The Fijians for all their class and skill just can’t seem to cope with the South African’s rigid defensive structures. Last week’s final was the Fijian’s fourth loss to the Blitzboks this season. The Pacific Islanders will be ecstatic to have avoided the South African’s in the group phase.
Speaking of the pool phase, the Fijians have been handed a decent draw as they have been pooled with a struggling Welsh outfit, a Samoan side who is in a rebuilding phase and a French side who have been hard hits by injuries. The Fijians should easily top this group which could see them avoid their boggy side in the quarter-finals.
Pool Opponents: Australia, Papa New Guinea and Scotland
There were encouraging signs for New Zealand despite the hosts only managing a fourth place finish. Youngster Vilimoni Koroi lived up to all the hype putting some smashing displays. Another man who was on form in front of his home crowd was DJ Forbes. The veteran may have lost a few yards of pace – he wasn’t actually the quickest to start off with – but he still reads the game extremely well and is key to New Zealand’s defensive structures.
While interim head coach Scott Waldrom is yet to announce his squad for the weekend, we’re unlikely to see too many changes. The only concern for Waldrom will be the availability of Tim Mikkleson, who seemed to do a bit of damage to his calf against Argentina.
Pool Opponents: Kenya, Japan and South Africa
The English were extremely disappointing last week. They looked laboured and devoid of ideas on attack while their defensive system was nowhere near as solid as it had been in Dubai and Cape Town. I do expect England to bounce back this weekend, however. They have a very experienced squad who have overcome harder tests in the past.
The English have been placed in an extremely tough pool alongside the Blitzboks. They have managed a victory over Neil Powell’s men this year, though, and even if they do fall to the all-conquering Africans, they’re still likely to advance to the quarter-finals as pool runners-up.
Verdict: South Africa
This will be the third consecutive tournament that I’ve tipped the South Africans. I understand how bland that is but I really can’t see anyone stopping them. They’re a bit short at 17/20 but they're certainly worth a R50 punt.