HSBC Sevens: Cape Town Sevens Preview

Rugby player evades a tackle

The Blitzboks will be looking to put the hoodoo of their hometown tournament behind them when the Sevens circuit descends upon Cape Town this coming weekend.

The opening round of the 2018/19 HSBC World Sevens Series certainly didn't disappoint with the tournament producing two days of spectacular rugby, that ultimately saw New Zealand come out on top in the desert.

The circuit now heads for one of it's most festive stops on the calendar: Cape Town. Reigning champions South Africa will be keen to bounce back on home soil but this will be easier said than done as the Blitzboks have struggled in the Mother City winning only one of the three events held at the Cape Town Stadium.

To Win Tournament Outright
Fiji
South Africa
New Zealand
Australia
England
Argentina
USA
Kenya

Contenders

South Africa
Cape Town 2017/18 Finish: Third

Dubai really tested this young South African squad who really did miss their try-scoring machine Seabelo Senatla and workaholic forward, Kwagga Smith. Lessons will have been learnt from last week's sixth-place finish, however, and we can expect a better showing from the Blitzboks on home soil.

As was noted in the introduction, Cape Town hasn't been the happiest of hunting grounds for the South Africans whose sole tournament victory in the 'Mother City' came back in 2015. Since that win, the South Africans have finished as runners-up (2016) and in third place (2017).

Player to Watch: Muller du Plessis
The young rookie saw his stocks rise massively last week as he scored six tries on his way to ending the tournament as South Africa's top points scorer. The Sharks youngster has great gas, for such a big player, as well as a neat set of hands. Expect to see the former Western Province junior make a big impact on his return to Cape Town.

Fiji
Cape Town 2017/18 Finish: Fifth

Like South Africa, the Fijians weren't at their best in the opening tournament as they could only manage a fifth-place finish. The Islanders actually started the Dubai event like a house on fire racking up big wins over France and Kenya on their way to topping the pool.

The knock-out phase of the tournament saw the Fijians go into their shells somewhat as a slew of handling errors saw them go down 12-24 to the United States in the Cup quarter-finals. They did bounce back from this setback quite impressively, though, as they beat Argentina and South Africa on their way to picking up a fifth-place finish.

The Fijians have endured a very long dry spell in South Africa with their last tournament victory in the Republic coming way back in 2005.

Player to Watch: Anemone Nasilasila
He struggled with the boot out in Dubai and will need to be far more accurate in South Africa if his side is to get the Cape Town monkey off their collective backs. All eyes will certainly be on the flying Fijians primary kicker this weekend.

New Zealand
Cape Town 2017/18 Finish: Champions

What a way to start the new campaign! The New Zealanders were great value for their victory out in Dubai and looked assured of themselves throughout the two days in Dubai only real nervy moment coming during their narrow 5-7 semi-final victory over England.

The series leaders will be full of confidence this week as not only do they head into this one off the back of a Dubai victory but they also won last year's Cape Town event.

Player to Watch: Andrew Knewstubb
The Kiwi back was in all-conquering form last week as he notched up 52 points on his way to securing second-place on the Dubai tournament's top-scorers list.

While he isn't the most prolific of tries scorers, Knewstubb does average three points per game, which is decent going considering a lot of his early appearances came off the bench.

If the New Zealanders are to make it back-to-back wins in South Africa, then they will need Knewstubb to repeat his Dubai heroics.

Dark Horse

Argentina
Cape Town 2017/18 Finish: Second

They may have only finished fifth out in Dubai last week but I was still thoroughly impressed by the men from South America.

The Argentine's managed to rack up at 12-17 win over the South Africans in their final pool game last week before a shock drubbing at the hands of the Australians saw them drop out of the Cup semi-finals. They would end their tournament on something of a high note, however, as they gave a solid account of themselves in the fifth-place semi-finals where they went down 21-31 to a determined Fijian outfit.

South Africa has been a relatively happy hunting ground for the men in blue and white who finished last year's tournament as runners-up.

Tips

Value Bet

Verdict: New Zealand
I've gone with the same four sides I previewed last week gain here as I think they will be the real contenders. Look, the Aussies and the Americans were rather eye-catching but they both possess ageing squads that may be found out playing two successive tournaments at the start of the season.

In terms of the sides in this piece, the Blitzboks just look a shade too green at the moment. There's no doubt that they'll hit their straps during the season but I think that will come later than sooner. Fiji were amazing at times last weekend but still look mentally frail.

The New Zealanders were by far and away the most rounded side, and that's why I'm backing them to make it two from two for a very minimal steak.



Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets


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